Donate a hawker centre meal to needy residents in Pasir Ris

Diners can donate a meal by buying "Gift-A-Meal" balls from stalls in Pasir Ris Central Hawker Centre and dropping them in a box.
Diners can donate a meal by buying "Gift-A-Meal" balls from stalls in Pasir Ris Central Hawker Centre and dropping them in a box.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

A programme launched yesterday lets diners at Pasir Ris Central Hawker Centre donate meals to needy residents.

Called Gift-A-Meal, the scheme is the first of its kind at a hawker centre, said social enterprise NTUC Foodfare, which runs Pasir Ris Central Hawker Centre.

The programme was launched by National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) Secretary-General Ng Chee Meng at the official opening of the hawker centre, where he spoke about the role of social enterprises in helping to moderate the cost of living.

Through Gift-A-Meal, patrons can donate a $3.50 meal set to needy residents in the neighbourhood through the Foodfare app or through hawkers.

The funds the programme raises will be administered by the Community Development and Welfare Fund. Low-income families will be identified and given stored-value cards for the purchase of meals at any Foodfare outlet.

To kick-start the programme, NTUC Foodfare will donate 1,000 meals. If the pilot is successful, it plans to extend this initiative to other hawker centres.

Foodfare manages more than 100 food establishments, including hawker centres, coffee shops and foodcourts, islandwide.

Through Gift-A-Meal, patrons can donate a $3.50 meal set to needy residents in the neighbourhood through the Foodfare app or through hawkers.

At Pasir Ris Central Hawker Centre, which opened to the public in January, a breakfast set costs around $2, while at three of Foodfare's hawker centres, every stall offers at least one meal priced at $2.80, and a cup of coffee or tea goes for as low as 60 cents.

Stallholder Lai Yi Xue, 24, who runs a vegetarian stall at Pasir Ris Central Hawker Centre, said the $2.80 meals make up 70 per cent of his daily sales.

Mr Lai said keeping food costs low while staying profitable boils down to finding a supplier with competitive prices and selling a large number of meals.

Foodfare has a social outreach programme that provides affordable, nutritious meals.

Mr Kelvin Lim, 48, is a patron of this programme, called Rice Garden, and pays around $2 for a dish of meat, vegetables and rice.

Market prices are $3 to $4 for a comparable meal, said the part-time customer service assistant.

"We have no choice in the cost of living going up, but I hope the Government will continue to help," said Mr Lim.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 15, 2018, with the headline 'Donate a hawker centre meal to needy residents in Pasir Ris'. Print Edition | Subscribe