SASSA Food parcels

If you or your family are going through a tough time and you’re not able to meet the most basic needs, you can turn to the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) for help.

Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini distributing food parcels with CEO of Sassa Virginia Peterson in Phuthaditjhaba

According to SASSA CEO Virginia Peterson, the agency hands out social relief of distress or food parcels to deserving people.

These are families or individuals who are experiencing undue hardships, she says.

“Undue hardships could refer to someone who has lot their job and no longer gets unemployment insurance or a family that has nothing. It could also be a result of someone’s house burning down, leaving them with nothing because they weren’t insured,” explains Peterson.

Other factors that could lead to undue hardship may include:

  • You need help while you wait for your children’s grants to be processed.
  • You do not qualify for a grant and you are in a desperate situation.
  • You are unable to work for a period of less than six month because you are medically unfit.
  • You are unable to get maintenance from the other parent of your child or children.
  • The breadwinner of the family has died.
  • The breadwinner has been sent to prison for a short time (less than six months).
  • You have been affected by a disaster but the area or community in which you live has not been declared a disaster area.
What do you get?

Social relief of distress may be a food parcel or a voucher to buy food. Some provinces give this assistance in the form of cash. These are given for a short time only, usually for up to three months, which may be extended for another three months.


Applications for social relief of distress can be made at the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) offices.

You will need to take along a 13-digit bar-coded identity document and your children’s birth certificates.

If your identity document or a birth certificate is not available you will need:

  • A sworn statement by a reputable person who knows the applicant and the child. This may be from a councillor, traditional leader, social worker or minister of religion.
  • Proof that an application for a birth certificate or identity document has been lodged with the Department of Home Affairs.
  • Where applicable, a temporary identity document issued by the Department of Home Affairs.
  • A baptismal certificate.
  • A road to health clinic card or a school report.

No application can be processed without the sworn statement/affidavit.

If you do not have an identity document and birth certificates an affidavit from your local police station, chief, councillor or religious leader may be proof enough.

You will also have to show proof that you:

  • Applied for a grant.
  • Had an emergency (e.g. provide a police report that your house burnt down).
  • Tried to get maintenance.
  • Have no other support.
  • Are married, divorced or single.
  • Have no income.
  • Have a short-term medical disability.

After submitting the necessary documents, your application will be processed and assessed for credibility and genuine need for the service. Even if you do not have all the documents, you may get the first month’s food parcel, voucher or cash.

Remember to take all the documents to the office before the second month’s payment is due. If you do not, you may not get your second and third month’s food parcel, voucher or cash. If there is no change in your circumstances after you have received the grant for three months, you may apply to have the grant extended for another three months.


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