Increase efforts to offer cheaper, healthy food

I agree that the affordability of food is a big factor behind undernourishment in the elderly (Centre to study nutritional health for elderly set up; Sept 1).

Healthy eating is expensive.

Most seniors live on limited incomes. The poor struggle to buy basic necessities, let alone nutritious and healthy food.

It is not uncommon for them to reduce the amount of food they buy. This results in them eating less meat, fruit and vegetables, and more unhealthy food, which is cheaper.

We need to increase efforts to develop healthier and cheaper food, perhaps by exploring ways to lower production costs.

There should be more social enterprises like NTUC's Rice Garden, which provides affordable nutritious meals to the poor and seniors. These enterprises should be given priority when they set up stalls at hawker centres.

Corporations could also donate to these enterprises and fund meal vouchers that can be distributed to the poor and elderly.

Hawkers need to join these schemes.Those who carry the Healthier Choice symbol should be encouraged to offer discounted meals to the elderly. Senior citizen cards can be used as proof.

For instance, Passion Card issuers had arranged with coffee stalls in Tampines Street 11 to offer seniors a cup of coffee with less or no sugar for 50 cents once a week.

Education is also important. Seniors who have lower educational qualifications may not be aware of good eating habits. We need to put them in touch with a dietitian who can help them plan a healthy diet.

Francis Cheng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2017, with the headline 'Increase efforts to offer cheaper, healthy food'. Print Edition | Subscribe