Deputy minister of social development, Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu, opened a new kitchen at the Velokhaya Life Cycling Academy in Khayelitsha on Sunday 17 November.
The kitchen has been sponsored by retail giant Pick n Pay and furnished by the department.
The kitchen will serve nutritious meals as part of the programmes that are conducted at the academy to help children stay focused.
Western Cape premier Alan Winde also attended the event.
Describing the background of the area where Velokhaya was constructed, Zulu said its construction has an unwritten history of the community of Khayelitsha.
She said: “Before Velokhaya was constructed, there were bushes. People were raped and killed on this open space. Others were injured and are now wheelchair-bound. A lot of pain was caused here. The construction of Velokhaya changed and saved lives of many people,” said Zulu.
She said the kitchen is part of a community development programme. She urged facility management not to change their staff. “Please keep the women who were working here before the fancy kitchen was constructed. They must not be pushed out and hire new people,” she stated.
Winde expressed his gratitude to Velokhaya for building a place for hope and creativity.
He said it is also a launching pad for cyclists.
“Thank you to the sponsors for creating a space for the future. One day we will see one of these cyclists competing in the Tour de France in France,” he said.
Winde urged the community to look after the academy.
“The biggest drive now is safety. It must be a safe environment. People must value it,” he said adding that no one must go hungry.
Velokhaya’s head of programmes Mickey Makasi said the new kitchen will boost their programmes.
“We have different programmes involving academics and health. It includes physical training and cycling.
“Now we will have nutrition as a third programme where we can provide a balanced meal for the children once a day,” she said. Makasi said the nutrition programme will encourage children to come in numbers.
“Children will be able to come to the academy straight after school. There will be no delays in our programmes as it used to be,” she said adding that they want to see the children excelling in whatever they do.
The kitchen has 10 tables each with four chairs, three fridges, stove, pantry and deep fryer.