Campaign to dish out healthy fare to the needy

Food Bank calls for more nutritious and varied donations for 100,000 beneficiaries

The Food Bank Singapore launched a campaign to encourage its needy beneficiaries to eat better yesterday, with a call for healthier food donations.

Project Eat Better aims to raise awareness about the importance of healthy eating, as well as supplement the charity's usual supplies of rice, noodles and canned food with healthier options, including fresh produce.

Currently, about 95 per cent of its donations are non-perishable items, such as rice and instant noodles.

At the launch event held at the Killiney Road outlet of Artisan Boulangerie Co, the bistro chain also announced that it will be donating a portion of proceeds from the sales of its featured healthy menu items to the Food Bank.

The Food Bank, founded in 2012 by siblings Nichol and Nicholas Ng, collects and redistributes food to 160 beneficiary organisations that reach 100,000 needy people, including those who are elderly and with low incomes.

Last year, it redistributed 157,000kg of food.

This year, the goal is to increase donations by 25 per cent, starting with a push for healthier and more varied food items, said Ms Ng, 37.

A refrigerator truck will enable the charity to collect and distribute more fresh food, while the Food Bank will also use its funds to purchase healthy food that it does not receive enough donations of, such as oats and eggs.

A cookbook, providing ideas on how to prepare simple meals from commonly donated food items, will be distributed to its beneficiaries later this year.

More fresh items will also be added to the food bundles that are sponsored by corporations.

"There is a perception that eating healthier means spending more," said Ms Ng, "but I don't think it's that much more expensive to have things like root vegetables, carrots and fruits which can last without refrigeration."

Noting that eating healthier may be a challenge for some, she said: "For the underprivileged, a lot of them eat instant noodles three meals a day. So maybe you can add to it beans or green peas - it's about cleverly adding things into the food you're already used to eating.

She added: "Food is the best medication for preventable diseases such as diabetes or heart disease. By eating better, we may be helping them to save on future medical bills."

Beneficiary organisations at the event were supportive of the move.

Daybreak Family Service Centre, which does outreach to needy families in Yishun, receives rations from the Food Bank about once a month.

The centre's director Connie Ng, said: "It's definitely a good thing to get more fresh products. Some of our clients survive on only canned food.

"With the Food Bank's partnership, we now also have savings that we can use to buy better items for our clients, such as special milk powder and brown rice for diabetics."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 09, 2016, with the headline 'Campaign to dish out healthy fare to the needy'. Print Edition | Subscribe