Former Teacher
Cristine Panday, founder of the Pink Room Foundation, and Akash Panday

What began as former teacher Cristine Panday making sarmies for her students soon became a purpose-led mission that fed over 107,000 school children!


KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa (12 December 2023) — When Cristine Panday was a teacher, she knew pupils couldn’t learn while their stomachs were empty. What began as the former teacher preparing sandwiches in her kitchen for hungry kids soon became a force of kindness and ultimately, Cristine’s purpose.

“I have heard children ask for another sandwich to take home because there is no meal for supper. I have seen children save sandwiches to take home for parents or grandmothers, who have no food. I have met children who arrive at school without having supper the night before or breakfast in the morning. How could I ignore that there are hungry children sitting in those classrooms?” she shares.

After the pandemic hit, Cristine realised that there was a lot she was capable of as someone with a passion for children’s upliftment. This meant starting with the basics so many of our youth go without.

In South Africa, a lack of the basics like nutrition can directly impact their schooling, mental wellbeing and development.

The Department of Social Development revealed in October that eight million SA children are not getting enough nutrition. It is estimated that 38% of SA children are physically and mentally stunted due to malnutrition.

Fuelled by a passion to change these stats for the better, Cristine’s Pink Room Foundation is actively making change happen where it is most needed, in KZN communities and schools.

Today the Pink Room Foundation has delivered around 107,000 sandwiches to seven schools and five communities in Durban. And, the food-focused future they’re striving for is looking even more promising thanks to a new kitchen.

Drawing inspiration from the Pebbles Project Kitchen concept in the Western Cape, the KwaZulu-Natal version was soon in the pipeline.

The Pink Kitchen will have an innovative meal and production model to provide even more meals to schoolchildren far beyond sandwiches. Veggies and meals with meat will soon be prepared quickly before they’re packed and ready to bring hunger relief to schools in the province.

This is thanks to Cristine’s hunger to serve, and her husband Akash’s help.

“I never expected what I started in my own kitchen to become this big. I started because I wanted to feed children. Having been a Montessori teacher, I know that a healthy body leads to a healthy mind, which leads to a happy child,” adds Cristine.

The first meals produced from the Pink Kitchen will be delivered in the first week of the new school year on 22 January 2024 after the Christmas boxes for children’s homes are rolled out.

Sources: Nicola Chaning-Pearce
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About the Author

Ashleigh Nefdt is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Ashleigh's favourite stories have always seen the hidden hero (without the cape) come to the rescue. As a journalist, her labour of love is finding those everyday heroes and spotlighting their spark - especially those empowering women, social upliftment movers, sustainability shakers and creatives with hearts of gold. When she's not working on a story, she's dedicated to her canvas or appreciating Mother Nature.

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