The retailer says that the core of its investment is in programmes helping to improve nutrition and food security. During its 2019 financial year, the group provided 307 051 nutritious meals to early childhood development centres. In addition, it trained 172 early childhood practitioners and equipped them with educational resources, benefiting 4 415 children in nine provinces.

The Shoprite group has also recently partnered with Grow Great to include on-pack messaging on its Shoprite Ritebrand and Usave Ubrand packaging for 18s and 30s eggs. This decision was taken on as eggs are, according to the group, a relatively affordable source of protein and great for a baby’s growth from the age of six months.

"The impacts of stunting are widespread," says Kopano Mabaso, executive director for the 'Grow Great' Campaign, which is working towards achieving zero stunting in South Africa by 2030.

"It affects brain development and, as such, stunted children are on average less likely to finish school, have lower earning potential and are more likely to live in poverty as adults," concludes Mabaso.

The Shoprite group believes that the first 1 000 days of a child's life is a critical opportunity to establish a foundation for children's academic success, health and general well-being. With this in mind, the group says that it will continue its fight against food insecurity and stunting, a scourge that has been called 'the silent emergency'.

Further interventions by the group include infrastructure upgrades of kitchens and sanitation facilities at early development centres. This move intends to provide a safe and healthy environment, as well as to assist practitioners to access and register for an early childhood development subsidy.

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