Chef David Higgs is educating Diepsloot’s youth through cooking and cycling

Readers know David Higgs as the executive chef of Five Hundred at The Saxon and 2013 Eat Out Chef of the Year. What they may not know is that he is also the founder of Food Cycle – a non-profit organisation aiming to educate South Africa’s underprivileged youth about the importance of nutrition.

What’s it all about?

Food Cycle is comprised of a number of different initiatives run by David Higgs. The objective is to provide hands-on education to the Diepsloot community through cycling and cooking. “What matters is what we teach our youth about health, nutrition and eating properly. We need to help them understand why they need to eat properly,” enthuses David.

Inspiration for the project hit him when riding with the Diepsloot Mountain Bike Club – a project aimed at 12 to 18 year olds in the area. “I noticed a lot of the guys that weren’t getting far were riding with empty stomachs or were just fuelled with energy drinks and sugar,” says David. Through Food Cycle, he wants to help supply resources through education, after-school programs and the Adopt a Rider program. The latter has seen David take on two young men from the Diepsloot area on an apprentice program. Both ride with him in races and also work at The Saxon – where they’re paid a salary and enrolled in a three-year cookery course. David believes that the values demonstrated through sports and culinary training will positively contribute to their futures: “The cycling club teaches them responsibility by looking after their bikes. My long-term hopes for them is that they can get involved in running their own kitchens and go on to lead successful lives. We are investing in their future.”

David Higgs - Head Chef of Five Hundred at The Saxon. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

David Higgs – Head Chef of Five Hundred at The Saxon. Photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Another part of the Food Cycle initiative is a food trailer with a fully equipped kitchen. The truck will travel to schools and communities where David will demonstrate how to prepare healthy food. The trailer will also have a visual presence at cycling races. A special nutritional bar is also in the works. The idea is that every time someone buys a bar, a child in the community gets one free.

So, what does the future hold? At present Food Cycle is funded entirely by donations. David says he’s happy to see the organisation grow naturally.

“Right now it’s just me, but in the next ten years I want it to become a full-time program. The big dream is to have a direct impact on people’s lives.”

Want to get involved? Visit the Food Cycle website to learn more about the project or to make a donation.

David Higgs with some young cyclists

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