Isabelo was born in 2009, because no child can learn on an empty stomach.
"Every morning I would drive to my restaurant The Tasting Room (Le Quartier Français, Franschhoek, South-Africa) and turn left at the bottom of the road. Within a kilometer I would be in my beautiful kitchen, working with the best produce. If I turned right at the bottom of my road and travel 1 kilometer I would get to the middle of the township, surrounded by poverty and hunger with children who go to school on empty stomachs. The difference is too vast; I had to do something to start making a difference.
With the help of a dietitian I developed a highly nutritious muffin recipe. Every Friday we started baking and delivering these muffins to a small local playschool with 70 hungry children.
This proved so popular that owing to the generous donations we were able to increase the supply of our healthy meals to over 100 children in two different pre-schools, five days a week.
After a successful fundraising dinner in The Netherlands in 2011 we were able to start feeding warm nutritious lunches to 185 children across three schools. These children’s meals were all prepared by my team at the restaurant.
We were also able to diversify our efforts and Isabelo started feeding 1100 primary school children in Franschhoek, porridge, fruit and milk every school day.
In 2013 we were able to increase the nutritional value by adding an egg to their breakfast three days of the week.
In 2014, I raised more funds by running the Cape Town Marathon. This, along with contributions from our suppliers, went towards the upgrading of the kitchens at Dalubuhle and Wes-Eind Primary Schools in which the Isabelo meals are cooked.
In April 2017 I decided to make a big change and after 21 years left my job as Executive Chef of The Tasting Room. I adopted Isabelo and moved it to new premises in Franschhoek, now the distribution centre for all the food. We are proudly partnered with the Pebbles Project Kitchen who provide the nutritious warm lunches for the 200 pre-school children. Breakfast supplies of milk, fruit, porridge and a lot of eggs are delivered to Isabelo HQ, from where I deliver the food daily to each school.
The Isabelo project has proven to be awe-inspiring and has surpassed my expectations. I strive to continue and grow this initiative and, with continued support, have no doubt that it will change the lives of more children than we ever imagined possible."
For more info on my culinary background and journey, please click here
In the latest University of Cape Town report, it revealed that because 30% of the South African population live in poverty with food insecurity, 3 out of 4 children go hungry every day.
The result? Kids who often arrive at school hungry and who can't concentrate in class due to a gnawing stomach, tiredness and low blood sugar.
What does Isabelo provide?
PRIMARY SCHOOLS - Whilst government provides supplies for primary school lunches, Isabelo aims to fill the crucial gap of breakfasts (wholesome oatmeal and fruit when available) and a nutritional mid morning snacks (a hard boiled free range egg and/or fruit)
ECD SCHOOLS (Early Childhood Development) - Isabelo supplies breakfasts (wholesome oatmeal and fruit when available), nutritional mid morning snacks (a hard boiled free range egg and/or fruit) PLUS a warm, balanced protein-based meal for lunch (Rice & stew, cottage pie, meatballs and the like).
PRIMARY SCHOOL after school reading (via Help2Read, read more) - Isabelo supplies a warm protein-based afternoon meal.
Plus, warm clothes, blankets, shoes, beanies and scarves for the kids in the winter time as and when generous supporters donate them to us.
Where we make a difference, every day.
Great things are done by a series of small things put together - Vincent van Gogh
Valley Kids Crèche
22 Pre-school children receive a nutritious breakfast and warm protein based lunch every school day.
Kusasa Early Learning Centre
150+ Pre-school and Junior-prep children receive a nutritious breakfast and a warm protein based lunch every school day.
In early 2022 we were really excited to be approached by the Help2Read organisation, a non-profit focused on literacy development and community strengthening through education and youth promotion.
Help2Read were already present in 4 Franschhoek schools with afternoon academic tutoring programs specifically targeting Grade 3 and 4 learners., but they needed assistance in designing and supplying a healthy snack for the kids in the afternoon to aid them in their reading activities.
Isabelo said YES, of course! And so, for the remainder of the 2022 academic year we will be feeding a warm afternoon meal to a total of 280 extra students a day x 4 days a week after school (Monday to Thursday) over these 4 schools.
About Margot Janse
Margot Janse was born and educated in The Netherlands, where her tertiary studies included drama and photography, which laid the foundation for her early work with a photographic school in Johannesburg, South Africa after relocating there in 1990.
Margot’s culinary journey started in 1993 with Ciro Molinaro, the chef-patron of La Cucina di Ciro in Johannesburg. Margot learned every aspect of managing a kitchen and was encouraged to experiment, which created an ability to explore beyond traditional ‘food boundaries’.
In 1995, Margot joined Le Quartier Français in Franschhoek as Sous Chef and was promoted to Executive Chef 6 months later. A culinary evolution of 22 years followed with many national and international awards. Margot travelled extensively to continually be inspired by new ideas and stay abreast of emerging trends.
Her stimulating African-inspired surprise menu changed regularly, based on the produce which she sourced from Le Quartier’s own indigenous garden and small local producers. This resulted in a kitchen buzzing with ongoing innovative and creative energy.
In April 2017 Margot left Le Quartier Francais and The Tasting Room closed.
Margot is currently;
Managing director of her charity Isabelo ‘Feeding Hungry minds’
Involved in a number of varying culinary and hospitality projects.