15,000 meals to be delivered daily to healthcare workers and needy families during Ramadan

The food will be delivered to 10 hospitals and 20 community centres across Singapore. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A total of 15,000 meals will be delivered daily to healthcare workers and their families to break fast throughout the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which starts on April 24.

The move is part of a new #SGUnited Buka Puasa initiative, and aims to show solidarity and gratitude to those on the front lines of the battle against the coronavirus.

Meals will also be distributed to needy households.

"The act of giving towards the breaking of fast of others is an act that is highly commendable for Muslims, and every Ramadan there is usually an outpouring of donations at our mosques to organise the communal breaking of fast," said Mr Esa Masood, chief executive of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis).

"Even though our mosques are closed this Ramadan, Muis and our mosques are happy and committed to be part of this meaningful initiative to reignite our community spirit and show solidarity with our healthcare workers, and those affected in the ongoing crisis."

The #SGUnited Buka Puasa initiative also aims to raise $2.5 million to support local businesses and healthcare workers. The money will be disbursed by the Singapore Malay Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SMCCI), with some going to caterers and those delivering meals to families affected by the crisis.

"This initiative is made even more meaningful, as it allows SMCCI to partner its members in the food and beverage industry, who are themselves, facing unprecedented challenges," said Mr Azrulnizam Shah Sohaimi, SMCCI's executive director.

Muis has donated an initial $1 million to the fund, with the Rahmatan Lil Alamin Foundation (RLAF) hoping to raise the remainder through online donation platform Giving.sg. The fund-raising drive started on Friday (April 17) and ends on May 23. All donations are tax-deductible.

The #SGUnited Buka Puasa initiative is a collaboration between Muis, mosques, the RLAF, the People's Association, interfaith initiative Roses of Peace and the SMCCI.

Those who wish to register for the daily meals can do so at the website. The food will be delivered to 10 hospitals and 20 community centres across Singapore, as well as the homes of those on Muis' zakat financial assistance scheme.

"This Ramadan will be very different for the Muslim community in Singapore," said Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli in a Facebook post on Saturday. "We will have to adjust our religious and cultural practices according to social distancing measures."

Among other things, the popular Hari Raya bazaar at Geylang Serai has been moved online this year, with the organiser setting up an e-commerce platform which will include delivery to customers. They will also verify that only Halal-certified or Muslim-owned products are sold.

Wisma Geylang Serai, which organises the event, added that it will be holding competitions and other digital content to keep festive spirits high.

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