As FleetWatch has so often pointed out in the past, the heart of the trucking industry beats strongly within South Africa and here is yet another example of that truth.
In 2009, Shoprite started a project called the Shoprite Mobile Soup Kitchen project with the intention of distributing warm soup and food to those in need around the country. It started off with only two Mobile Soup Kitchen units serving Gauteng and the North West Province and later that year, eight more trucks were added to the number allowing more people to be reached in other disadvantaged communities.
Over the years the fleet grew to 17 and recently Shoprite added another five new trucks to this dedicated fleet when UD Trucks came on board with five new UD40L models bring to 22 the total number of trucks dedicated to this project.
Since 2009, Shoprite has used these trucks to distribute more than 16 million cups of soup and many thousands of loaves of bread to approximately 600 000 South Africans in need on a monthly basis. It is estimated that the feeding programme will extend its reach to close to eight million people this year.
The total fleet is distributed across South Africa as follows: two in the Western Cape, three in the Eastern Cape, two in the Free State, three in KwaZulu-Natal, three in Gauteng, two in Mpumalanga, four in Limpopo and three in North West.
These trucks operate seven days a week to identify suitable areas and provide meals to needy communities nationwide. Each vehicle is manned by two well-trained crews to ensure maximum optimisation and is kitted with a fully-functional kitchen and gas cooking equipment where the nutritional soup is prepared. Each truck is also able to carry 500-litres of water, as many of the areas visit have very limited access to water.
“In a country where only one in five families are food secure and micronutrient deficiency is a reality, this project aims to address hunger and malnutrition by providing food to school children, senior citizens and hundreds of thousands of people affected by job losses. In times of disaster such as floods or fires, the mobile units are deployed to offer relief in the most affected areas,” says Neil Schreuder, marketing director at Shoprite Checkers. “We believe our Mobile Soup Kitchens don’t only offer a cup of soup but also provide a meal of hope.”
The UD 40L units are ideally suited to this task as one of the major challenges for the fleet is the tough road conditions drivers have to deal with, especially in remote rural areas.
UD Trucks has fitted a special ‘off-road’ kit to the UD 40L units to protect the units – especially the suspension and under carriage on each of the trucks. The kits are extremely successful and include teflon suspension bushes, heavy-duty shock absorbers and a protector plate under the engine to safeguard the drive train from rocks and ruts.
At the handover of the trucks to Gawie du Toit, national transport manager for Shoprite, Jacques Carelse, managing director of UD Trucks Southern Africa, said: “We are extremely proud to now be part of this very vital project and as a local manufacturer, are grateful for the opportunity to make a tangible difference in people’s lives,” says.
Well done to both Shoprite and UD Trucks. You can stand tall and proud on this one!