Media Release: Food Dialogues 2020 aims to foster a healthier, more resilient and just food system

20 July – 14 August 2020

Issues around food, nutrition and hunger have reached a new level of urgency as the widespread, ongoing hunger in South Africa and many parts of the world are exacerbated by the global COVID-19 pandemic and responses to it.

Food insecurity, a longstanding problem in South Africa, has gained new awareness in communities, but in spite of some heroic and historic efforts and innovations, we continue to fall short of meeting far too many people’s basic food needs.

It is clear that we need a resilient, healthier and just food system.  An innovative platform for engagement, Food Dialogues, is a step towards that goal. The platform brings together a diverse and inclusive range of voices involved in shaping the food system, providing an opportunity for food growers, academics, activists, writers, nutritionists, policy makers, food lovers and anyone interested in better approaches to engage in key issues intimately connected to the food we eat and the future of food.

From 20 July – 14 August, Food Dialogues: Cape Town 2020 ( will focus on the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it has had and will have on Cape Town’s food system. Diverse experts will unpack what has been revealed; the current state; what changes have been made, are underway, and are planned that impact it; and what the future of our food system might be. The Food Dialogues are an opportunity after the initial shock of the pandemic and lockdown to assess the situation, the response, and the way forward.


“Everybody eats. So we’re all part of the food system. But we each experience food differently according to our cultures, tastes, resources, geographies, ideas, opportunities and educations. But in a crisis like the pandemic, so much of this becomes scrambled and disorienting. We need dialogue to make sense of something that affects us all but that is too big for any of us to fully understand. Food Dialogues is a way to share our stories, to discuss our hopes and fears, and to imagine better ways to not just feed, but to nourish ourselves, our families and our communities.” Kurt Ackermann, Executive Manager, SA Urban Food & Farming Trust

“The COVID-19 pandemic presents significant challenges for food systems in Africa over the foreseeable future. Compounded by increasing numbers of undernourished people, uncertain political, economic and environmental contexts; measures to control the pandemic have aggravated already strained household incomes; leaving those already living from hand to mouth unable to feed themselves or their families. At the same time, disruptions to the increasingly global food value chain have exacerbated legacy problems with food security. The Food Dialogues come at an opportune time, bringing diverse voices into the conversations about how we bring about the changes we need in our food system to protect livelihoods and eliminate hunger, while at the same time dealing with the health challenge and the economic consequences of the virus and its mitigation.”  Prof Julian May, Director DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security

“South Africans have shown a willingness to embrace new forms of social innovation that have emerged spontaneously in response to the pandemic. Engaging with that adaptability and sharing it across different parts of our food system is so important for making the most of this creative energy as we strive to change the system in ways which will better serve vulnerable groups. Food Dialogues can help to make that happen.” Carol-Ann Foulis, Innovation Director at the DG Murray Trust

“If we are going to develop appropriate and sustainable responses to complex urban issues such as food security, we are going to need to engage a wide range of stakeholders from government and civil society. Public platforms such as Food Dialogues gives researchers, public officials, civil society organisations and citizens the opportunity to share perspectives and information, which ultimately increase our collective capacity to work towards solutions to these wicked problems.” Assoc. Prof Jane Battersby, African Centre for Cities at UCT

“Food, as an essential good and human right but also as an expression of economic status, access and culture, provides a very powerful lens on the forces that shape a city and society. By unpacking and better understanding urban food systems we can get better understand, plan and regulate the overall food system, and in so doing ensure a more equitable society.” Dr Gareth Haysom, African Centre for Cities at UCT

“Local and sustainable food systems will not be possible, despite their importance, unless we pro-actively engage, and disentangle, the historical foundations of South Africa’s food system.” Dr Gareth Haysom, African Centre for Cities at UCT

“The response from the private sector to the hunger in South Africa during the pandemic has been inspiring. We know that there is a strong desire for companies and entrepreneurs to make a positive social and economic impact beyond short-term emergency relief, and many are moving quickly to do just that. Food Dialogues will help identify needs and opportunities as well as partners and networks to spark innovation and make these efforts more inclusive and successful.” Ellen Fischat, Managing Director,  Oribi Village

Key Dates:

Registration opened:                                 13 July

First content released:                              20 July

Speaker talks released:                            27 – 31 July

Facilitated engagement:                        27 July – 10 August

Speaker responses:                                    3 – 7 August

Moderated panel discussions:                10 – 14 August

Food Dialogues is conceived of and hosted by the SA Urban Food & Farming Trust.

Sponsors include the DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security and the DG Murray Trust.

Partners include the African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town, Oribi Village, the City of Cape Town, ICLEI and Derrick.

Follow the event on social media with #fdcpt2020 and #fooddialogues2020, and on the following channels:


Instagram: @food_dialogues

Twitter: @food_dialogues


Food Dialogues Cape Town 2020 is participating in #AfricanCityFoodMonth

Further Details:

The free online Food Dialogues programme is organised around five themes: Food and Crisis, Food and Politics, Food and Health, Food and Culture, and Food and Economics, each of which has a real-time, livestreamed 90-minute panel discussion, one each weekday from 10 – 14 August. Each panellist is also a speaker who provides a pre-recorded 10-minute talk, or ‘provocation’, on a topic within their theme. These talks are released prior to the panel discussions to enable engagement by the public with the ideas and issues they raise via the event platform at

Confirmed speakers and panel moderators to date are the following, per theme:

Food and crisis

How crisis impacts our food system: Gray Maguire, Western Cape Government (Government)

Farming in a crisis: the case of smallholder farms: Veronica Baleni, Bhukula Farming Cooperative (Farmer)

A window of opportunity: Connecting immediate responses around the Covid-19 food crisis to long-term food systems change: Andrew Boraine.  Western Cape Economic Development Partnership (Civil Society)

Theme Moderator: Leonie Joubert, Science Writer and Journalist

Food politics

The constitutional right to food: Funmilola Adeniyi, Dullah Omar Institute – UWC (Academic)

Rethinking the roots of food poverty: Broken history, broken food system: Dr Gareth Haysom, African Centre for Cities (UCT) (Academic)

Women, food and power: Henriette Abrahams, Bonteheuwel Community Forum (Civil Society)

Food, farming and nutrition in the curriculum: Rirhandzu Marivate, Sustainability Institute (Civil Society)

Find, make, use. Food, shelter and safety in the city: Chuma Mgcoyi, Tyisa Nabanye (Activist)

Theme Moderator: Florian Kroll, DST-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security

Food and health

Food, health and co-morbidity with infectious disease: Prof Thandi Puoane, UWC (ret.) (Academic)

Health impacts of our food system: first 1000 days: Prof Lisanne du Plessis, Stellenbosch University (Academic)

Risk, non-communicable diseases and ultra-processed food: Dr Zandile Mchiza, School of Public Health UWC (Academic)

Nourishing our humanity: health beyond our selves and our bodies: Monwabisi Dyantyi, The Warehouse (Civil Society)

Healing through food: growing, cooking, eating: Beatrice Rabkin, Nutritionist (Private Sector)

Theme Moderator: Yolanda Busbee, Prosperity Food/Bee There Do That Podcast

Food and culture

Cape Town’s food culture/s: Zayaan Khan, Food Activist (Activist)

Decolonising food: Mpumelelo Ncwadi, Foregone Conclusions NPC (Civil Society)

Urban Foodscapes – how food changes people’s social behaviour: Prof Jane Battersby, African Centre for Cities (UCT) (Academic)

Hungry Souls: From feeding to sacramental dining: Angelo Fick, Auwal Socio-Economic Research Institute (Civil Society)

Urban agriculture and the food commons: Xolisa Bangani, Slow Food Youth Network and Ikhaya Gardens (Activist)

Theme Moderator: Ishay Govender-Ypma, Food Journalist/ People of Colour at the Table

Food and economics

Food Retail: Realities, futures and fictions: Sheryl Ozinsky, OZCF Market (Social Enterprise/Entrepreneur)

Making food, making money, doing good: Miles Kubheka, Vuyo’s (Chef Entrepreneur)

In/Formal food economy, Thozama Gwente, Cape Town Informal Traders Association (Civil Society)

Who owns/controls what? The political economy of our food system: Dr Tracey Ledger, Public Affairs Research Institute; author “An Empty Plate” (Civil Society)

Food, investment and innovation: failures and futures: Dr Reena das Nair, University of Johannesburg (Academic)

Theme Moderator: Ellen Fischat, Oribi Village

Media Contacts

SA Urban Food & Farming Trust

Founded in 2014, the SA Urban Food & Farming Trust (Reg. IT20812/2014, PBO 930052666) is a non-profit public benefit organisation that works through food and farming to strengthen South Africa’s urban communities and the ecosystems that sustain them.

Kurt Ackermann, Executive Manager, +27 83 508 1066

DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Food Security

Mologadi Makwela, Manager: Communications, Marketing and engagement, +27 878 258 3965

DG Murray Trust

Corne Kritzinger, Communications Specialist,, +27 21 670 9840

African Centre for Cities

Alma Viviers, Communications Officer,, +27 82 444 1729

Oribi Village

Ellen Fischat, CEO,, +27 76 738 2917

Read the full media release