Food Bank launches vending machine with sundries, hot meals for the needy

South West District Mayor Low Yen Ling (left) at the launch of the vending machine. PHOTO: SOUTH WEST CDC

SINGAPORE - More help is available for Singaporeans who struggle to get enough food to eat amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

One of the initiatives include a vending machine at Block 813A Choa Chu Kang Avenue 7 that dispenses dry food items and bento meals for the less fortunate.

The machine provides free food for 200 people, including needy residents and seniors with mobility issues so they can get their meals more conveniently.

These residents are given a card each containing $50 in credit every month, which they can tap on the machine to redeem dry food items such as canned food and rice. They can also redeem ready-made packed meals.

The vending machine, which offers packed meals for $3 and other food items ranging from $1 to $7, will run until the end of next year.

The initiative is supported by non-profit group The Food Bank Singapore and various grassroots and social service organisations.

One of the beneficiaries, 39-year-old Roziana Ramli said she is appreciative of the initiative as it helps her save money and time from going out to buy food.

"There are many choices available and it is also easy for me to heat up the meals in the microwave provided," she said.

There are more than 30 items on sale in the vending machine, including packets of Milo powder, biscuits, condiments and instant noodles.

Ms Low Yen Ling, mayor of the South West District said: "Despite the challenges posed by Covid-19, we are seeing unified efforts by organisations and individuals from all fronts coming together to help the vulnerable. We welcome innovations like the Food Bank vending machine which extend our reach and resources."

Separately, Food Bank has also teamed up with Dairy Farm Group - which owns supermarkets Giant and Cold Storage supermarkets -to organise a food donation drive.

The drive, which aims to donate 10,000 meals each month, provides underprivileged families with daily necessities and food products with higher nutrition.

Customers can donate dry goods, canned goods, sauces and beverages at collection points in participating supermarket outlets.

It began on Friday (Dec 18) at 10Cold Storage and Giant outlets, with plans to roll out island-wide over the next few months.

Dairy Farm's chief executive for Southeast Asia Food Business Chris Bush said: "As a leading food retailer, food insecurity is naturally an issue close to our hearts and we know that this year will be particularly challenging for many families.

"With stores located island-wide providing easy access to products and collection points, we are hoping to make it easier for customers to participate so we can make an even bigger impact for families in need."

Ms Nichol Ng, co-founder of Food Bank Singapore, said households facing food insecurity often prioritise affordability over the nutritional value of food.

"We are proud to partner with Dairy Farm to increase the awareness of food insecurity so that we might narrow the gap on food support to feed Singapore better together," she said.

The pilot supermarkets are:

1. Cold Storage Fresh, Great World City

2. Market Place, Tanglin Mall

3. Cold Storage, Jelita Shopping Centre

4. Cold Storage, Kallang Leisure Park

5. Cold Storage, Link@896 (Previously Sime Darby)

6. Giant Hypermarket, Tampines

7. Giant Hypermarket, Sembawang Shopping Centre

8. Giant Hypermarket, Suntec City

9. Giant Hypermarket, IMM

10. Giant Hypermarket, Pioneer Mall

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