UK: Zimbabwe Newport Volunteering Association delivers affordable African food parcels

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By BBC News

WALES: A charity that delivers African food parcels in Newport says it is helping people get food they cannot afford to buy.

The Zimbabwe Newport Volunteering Association delivers between 30 and 50 African food parcels a month.

Its founder said many African foods were unaffordable in specialist shops due to the cost of living crisis.

One mother said it meant her 17-month-old daughter could become familiar with food “from home”.

Robert Muza, the charity’s founder and chair, said beneficiaries were appreciating the parcels “more and more” due to the rising cost of living.

“Where we go and buy and fetch these items they are more expensive because they are not produced locally, they are getting shipped all the way from Africa,” he said.

“It’s not just the food items, we also take leaflets and information on the cost of living crisis, signposting them further to other agencies for better opportunities in employment, volunteering or for their mental health.”

Parcels include items such as fufu flour, which is made from mashed plantain, South African sausage boerewors and maize meal, which is made from dried corn kernels.

Latoya Musonza, 36, from Zimbabwe, has been helped by the project. She has a 17-month old daughter, Tamaya, and says life has had its “ups and downs”.

Latoya and Tamaya

Latoya Musonza was granted asylum in the UK in 2019

“It was more difficult when I was on asylum surviving on £40 a week and you can’t work so it’s quite hard,” she said.

“Now it’s a bit better because when I was granted my [asylum seeker] status I’m getting help from Universal Credit and also child benefit.

“It’s never enough because as a single mother the bills are so high, the gas, the electricity, food so I can’t say it’s easy but I’m glad I’ll be starting uni at the University of South Wales from September.”

Latoya says the charity has “always been there” throughout the pandemic and now the cost of living crisis.

“The food is like from home,” she said.

“It’s really been helpful but it’s also good for children like my daughter to be familiar with food from where I come from.”

Robert Muza

The project has received a grant from Community Foundation Wales which set up a fund to support black, Asian and ethnic minority communities badly affected by the pandemic

Mr Muza believes the cost of living crisis is having a particular impact on some people in African communities.

He said people could feel isolated without extended family networks, may be sending money to relatives in Africa and can be reluctant to seek help due to stigma around using food banks.

That is why he said he delivers the food parcels or arranges for people to collect them from his house.

“Most people they don’t want to be seen collecting a food parcel,” he said.

“So with our model of coming to the house there’s more privacy.”

Samson Muputa, one of the volunteers, has previously been homeless and said life was “really, really difficult” for many with the cost of living crisis following the pandemic.

Samson Muputa

Samson Muputa emphasised the price increase of groceries

“Two bags of groceries from Aldi will cost me £30. Just a year and a half ago it would be half the price,” he said.

Luke Young, from Citizens Advice Cymru, said new analysis showed people who are black, black British, Caribbean and African have a disproportionate take-up of the charity’s services in Wales.

“What that tells us is those particular communities are facing particular challenges in the cost of living crisis,” he said.

“What it often means is that some of the entrenched inequalities that exist in society are causing more of an effect right now for those particular bits of the population.”