Food charities appeal for donations as demand from the needy rises amid coronavirus pandemic

A photo taken on Feb 20, 2020, shows volunteers helping to sort and pack items at Food from the Heart at its Joo Seng Road warehouse. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Food charities are appealing for donations of money from the public to buy food directly from suppliers to meet the increasing demand from the needy for food aid amid the coronavirus pandemic.

It will also help deal with the shortage of volunteers, who help prepare and distribute food essentials, since stricter social-distancing measures were announced last week.

Charities like Food From The Heart are also forced to buy directly from importers as purchase limits imposed by supermarkets have affected their operations.

"That's why we have started a donation drive on, so that we can do the purchasing of food by working with the suppliers directly," said Food From The Heart chief executive Sim Bee Hia.

About $35,000 have been raised as of Friday evening (April 3).

Before the coronavirus outbreak, it had about 60 volunteers a day helping to prepare food packs at its warehouse in Joo Seng Road.

Now, the number is about 10 to 15 volunteers, said Ms Sim.

Food donations have plunged too, with no food drives being organised by companies and schools, even as the number of its beneficiaries have risen by 25 per cent, she added.

Meanwhile, other food charities like The Food Bank Singapore have come up with new initiatives so that needy families will not go hungry.

The charity's Feed the City (Take-away Edition), launched on Friday, will deliver 50,000 meals to needy families.

Under the programme, donors will pay for the meals provided by restaurant partners at special rates, while volunteers will distribute the meals to senior citizens from the charity's beneficiary centres that face problems doing so.

"We thought this would be a win-win solution, so we can support the restaurants that are struggling, and at the same time gives the underprivileged the opportunity to enjoy meals from these restaurants," said co-founder Nichol Ng.

Ms Ng urged more donors and food and beverage outlets to join the programme, which is expected to last two months or until the Covid-19 situation improves.

Electricity retailer Geneco has pledged up to 1,000 meals under this initiative, if individuals share their social media campaign on Facebook and Instagram with a friend.

Online caterer Grain has pledged to provide meals at a discounted rate under the programme.

"While this is an intensely stressful time with a lot of uncertainty, there are also a lot of opportunities for us to support and be kind to one another," said director Shawn Liam.

The article has been updated for clarity.

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