Coronavirus: Food firm founded by billionaire Kishin RK sets up foundation to provide free food to those in need

Mr Kishin RK (right) said he and the other co-founders of Tiffin Labs had planned to start the foundation before the outbreak. PHOTOS: ST FILE, SCREENGRAB FROM TIFFINLABS.COM

SINGAPORE - Food firm Tiffin Labs, co-founded by one of Singapore's youngest billionaires, 36-year old Kishin RK, has set up a charitable foundation to give free meals to the needy during the Covid-19 crisis.

The Tiffin Labs Food is Love Foundation partnered with charity Free Food for All to distribute, as a start, 20,000 restaurant quality meals, such as chicken rice and pasta prepared by Tiffin Labs chefs, to those in need, including poor families and those who lost their jobs due to the pandemic. The food distribution will begin on Friday (April 24).

The foundation, among other plans, will give away another 10,000 meals to healthcare workers.

Tiffin Labs prepares and delivers cooked meals to its customers.

Mr Kishin said on Thursday (April 23): "We want to make sure there is food in every household. That no one goes hungry."

He is the son of property magnate Raj Kumar, who runs Royal Holdings.

Mr Kishin sold off an apartment his parents gave him to start RB Capital when he was 23. Today, the real estate acquisition and development firm owns The InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay and Park Hotel Farrer Park, among other properties. It has an asset base of over $5 billion.

Forbes estimates the father-son duo to have a net worth of US$2.6 billion (S$3.7 billion) as of Thursday (April 23).They were ranked 12th among Singapore's 50 richest in 2019.

Mr Kishin said he and the three other co-founders of Tiffin Labs had planned to start the foundation before the coronavirus outbreak. The scale of the crisis prompted them to speed up their plans.

The foundation aims to provide food to the underprivileged in Singapore and to other beneficiaries both here and overseas.

Mr Kishin declined to say how much money he donated to start the foundation, adding: "It is both me and Tiffin Labs coming together to give money to start the foundation."

He said: "I feel sad at seeing how many people all around the world are affected by Covid-19. And what comes to mind is: how can we help them?"

Mr Nizar Mohamed Shariff, 49, founder of Free Food for All said on Thursday (April 23) he is grateful for the partnership with Tiffin Labs, given the sharp increase in calls for help.

Towards the end of last month, the charity had about 700 new applicants asking for food in just three days. Pre-Covid-19, the charity usually saw 100 to 120 new applicants a month.

Many said they have lost their jobs or seen their incomes plunge due to the stricter circuit breaker measures to stem the outbreak, Mr Nizar said.

Mr Nizar, who is a father of four and married to a nurse manager, said: "Previously, by the time I was going to sleep, I felt so drained as the need was so great with the Covid-19 crisis, but we didn't have many resources."

Mr Nizar, who used to run a shipping business and does not take a salary from the charity, said he has pumped in a six-figure sum of his own money to keep it going.

He said of their partnership with Tiffin Labs: "Now I feel we have more support, like there are more people who want to fight the good fight with us."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.