Backpacks Full of Food (Lockdown Day 84)

by | Jun 18, 2020 | COVID-19, Johannesburg, Melville and Surrounds | 8 comments

It’s Day 84 of the South African lockdown. Although after the president’s speech last night, I’m not sure how long we can continue to describe the state we’re living in as a “lockdown”. I have a lot of thoughts on our current lockdown regulation situation, but I’m going to save those for tomorrow’s post.

Today I want to show you pictures of the backpacks full of food people received during the Melville food distribution this morning.

A man and his backpack full of food
A man shows me his backpack full of food.

The food parcels distributed in this program (which I started documenting more than a month ago) are usually packed in plastic grocery bags. It breaks my heart seeing hundreds of single-use bags going out into the world every week, but what other alternative is there when distributing emergency food on such a mass scale?

This week was different though. A donor provided hundreds of backpacks so each recipient received their parcel in a sturdy, reusable bag. This was very exciting.

Backpack food parcels
Backpack parcels ready to give out.

I took photos at both the backpack-packing yesterday and the backpack distribution today.

Food packing in Melville
Veggies ready to be packed, with the bags waiting behind.
Food-packing volunteers
Volunteers ready to work. If you live in Melville, you might recognize some of these guys — they are bead artists/artisans who sell their work on 7th Street.
Samuel and Tanya
Samuel was the first 7th Street artist I met when I moved to Joburg ten years ago. He once made a beaded version of my sister’s dog, which still sits on her mantel in Vermont. Samuel now focuses mostly leather goods and made this beautiful leather bag for Tanya, who runs the food parcel program. You can contact Samuel at +27-78-738-5957.
At the church this morning. Dear god, it was cold.
People inside the church to collect parcels
I never get tired of taking pictures inside this church.
Ladies with backpacks and hot water bottle
The lady on the right is holding a hot water bottle — best way to cope with this cold.
Kid at parcel collection
I need to learn this little boy’s name — I’ve seen him at the collection almost every week.
Volunteer Nicholas distracts another child while his/her mother waits in line.
Cute kid
This kid was freaking cute.
Ladies walking away with backpacks
Seeing this made me happy.

If you’d like to donate to the food parcel program from within South Africa, please send a payment to the Viva Foundation using the following bank details:

Name: Viva Foundation
Branch: FNB Olympus Plaza Code 258155
Acc Nr.: 622 4884 3270
Reference: Melville

If you’d like to donate from overseas, please contact me.


  1. AutumnAshbough

    I love the backpacks! What an excellent donation!

  2. Catrina

    You can literally feel the freezing cold in your photos. I feel sorry for those who have to stand in line in that cold.
    Wonderful news about the backpacks! It helps everyone! ????
    Hope it gets warmer!

    • 2summers

      I know, and so many people get there sooooo early. I think it’s supposed to warm up by a few degrees this weekend — can’t wait.

  3. David Bristow

    You can just imagine all those backpacks sitting in someone’s garage for years, too valuable to just ditch, but what to do!? I think people everywhere are finding lots of stuff they do not in fact need, and passing it along. Each week we go through our wardrobes and take out another warm thing to hand out at the local feeding point.

    • 2summers

      Yeah totally. Apparently these came from a marketing company that was supposed to brand them for someone, but then they lost the client during lockdown but had already bought the backpacks.

  4. eremophila

    You’re doing a great job Heather, highlighting this much needed program, kudos to all involved.


Leave a Reply