We thank Mr Lee Chee Meng for his letter (No variety due to restrictions on value meals, Oct 11).
Rice Garden is a community meal programme which was started in 2009, to provide affordable, nutritious cooked food, in particular, to the lower income group.
Prices of food at Rice Garden are subsidised in order to offer a meal of two vegetable and one meat dish at a low price. The price is from $1.50 for ComCare and NTUC privilege cardholders and from $2 for concessionary cardholders, such as senior citizens, students, full-time national servicemen, and NTUC union members.
Customers whose meals are not subsidised pay the full price at our hawker centre and coffee shop stalls, starting from $2.70 or $3, respectively.
The launch of our Rice Garden programme has given many people access to affordable and healthier meals. For example, last year, we served more than 4.5 million meals through our 41 outlets. About 3 million or two-thirds of these were subsidised meals.
All Rice Garden stalls offer at least two healthier choice meals at no extra cost.
We would like to clarify that subsidised customers and customers paying the full price are offered the same variety of dishes of up to 13 vegetable and meat dishes (depending on stall size).
Our stalls also practise menu rotation to ensure that customers have a different variety of dishes to choose from.
The whole range of dishes on offer is available to all customers, regardless of whether they are entitled to subsidies or not.
However, to offer greater variety to those who are less budget-conscious, we also offer certain dishes which are priced higher such as fish or chicken drumstick.
If a customer, regardless of whether he is paying the full or subsidised price, chooses to purchase these dishes, then he will have to pay a higher price for the meal.
We are committed to ensuring that everyone is able to enjoy a wholesome and nutritious meal at an affordable price at Rice Garden.
Koh Kian Leong
Institutional Catering Division