An industrial kitchen in Changi Prison Complex has been producing meals for three nursing homes in Singapore.
The Samsui Central Kitchen @ Changi Prison Complex currently serves 1,500 individuals, but will be able to double that number by the year end.
The kitchen, which was officially launched yesterday, is a collaboration between Samsui Supplies and Services, Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises and Standard Chartered Bank.
Ms Judy Hsu, chief executive of Standard Chartered Bank Singapore, said: "I strongly believe that private, public sectors and social enterprises can partner to be a strong force for good."
The bank contributed $200,000 to set up the kitchen, which is run by 30 inmates from Monday to Saturday, and can serve up 1.8 million meals per year.
Samsui director Ang Kian Peng said the kitchen now churns out 2,400 meals per hour, and flash freezes them to ensure freshness.
The meals are sent to the nursing homes daily. Although they can be kept for up to two months, they are usually used within five days.
The nature of the beneficiaries' age and health also means that the kitchen has to have more calculated recipes, ensuring that the food is high in nutritional value and low in calories, said Mr Ang.
Our goal is to help residents age with grace, and this is one way to provide them the necessary support while rehabilitating inmates.
MR JAMES TAN, chief executive of Touch Community Services, one of the beneficiaries of the kitchen.
He added that Samsui tries to keep them at 500 calories per meal.
The inmates are involved in cooking and preparing the raw ingredients. They work from 8.30am to 5pm on weekdays, and 8.30am to noon on Saturday, and are paid a nominal allowance.
A 24-year-old inmate said working in the kitchen since its opening three months ago has helped him find some direction in life.
The inmate, who can be identified only as John, said that before the programme, he did not have any plans for the future or any direction he wanted to follow after his release. But he now considers the food and beverage industry an option.
Mr Ang said Samsui offers all inmates who work in the kitchen jobs after their release.
John said the job in the kitchen also challenges him physically. He was initially not used to the hard work and long hours, but has grown accustomed to them.
He added: "I used to be able to cook only instant noodles, but now I know a few recipes. At least I can cook something nice for my family."
Mr Teo Seng Boon, a deputy superintendent of prisons and the officer in charge of the programme, said such initiatives benefit the inmates in a practical way.
He recalled a chance meeting with a former inmate working in a restaurant, who had attended a food and beverage workshop while he was in prison.
He used the experience and skills he picked up to become a contributing member of society upon his release, said Mr Teo.
Mr James Tan, chief executive of Touch Community Services, one of the beneficiaries of the kitchen, said: "The food is delicious, and our residents generally enjoy the meals."
He added that it really helps to be able to get good-quality food at good prices.
He said: "Our goal is to help residents age with grace, and this is one way to provide them the necessary support while rehabilitating inmates."