SINGAPORE - The Covid-19 pandemic has been a tough time for Madam Noraliza Abdul Rahman so the launch of an initiative – which allows her to collect food items twice a month – is welcome news.
"It helps us a lot, so at least my husband can focus on the other bills," said the 47-year-old housewife, who has five children - aged three to 12 - and runs a food business out of the family's rental flat in Jurong West.
Madam Noraliza, whose husband is a development manager, is among 200 beneficiaries of a food locker at Nanyang Community Club that was rolled out on Saturday (Jan 15).
It allows needy residents in the area - who were selected on a means-tested basis - to collect one of three different sets of food and beverage items any day of the week, twice a month.
To use the locker, they simply key in the last four digits of their NRIC number, or scan their IC, and select the set.
Madam Noraliza said one set is enough to feed her family for roughly one week, although she would need to supplement the canned and dried items with fresh ingredients.
West Coast GRC MP Ang Wei Neng, speaking at the launch, said one set of food costs roughly $20, and that the project will cost about $100,000 a year. Funding comes from corporate sponsors and public donations.
He hopes the initiative will also reduce waste. Previously, recipients could collect only on pre-determined dates, and could not choose the items. This led to waste, as some wanted only canned food or powdered beverages and not rice.
With the locker, recipients can choose a set with rice, less rice or no rice. They are encouraged to leave any items that they do not want in a collection box next to the machine, so that other needy folks can use them.
Mr Ang noted that the food locker is placed in a visible location in the community centre, and hopes this will raise awareness and encourage more people to donate and support the programme.
"Vulnerable families are the worse hit during the Covid-19 pandemic. The food locker programme allows such families to collect the food they need at their own time. This programme can reduce waste, is more sustainable and can better meet the needs of the beneficiaries," he said.
A free reusable bag is provided with each set of food for the first month.
Mr Ang said a second machine is due to be launched later this year and, if the programme is successful, more machines with greater food options may be installed.
"With the pandemic, some families are hard-hit. I hope that this scheme will give them some comfort and brighten up their lives," he said.