ST Causes Week 2019: Four families sold their homes to cook for the needy

Mummy Yummy staff who are also family members of the founders, (from far left) Ms Cheng Yihui, 28, Mr Chan Guo Xiong, 35, and Ms Ang Hwee Shi, 25, with dishes they serve at their vegetarian restaurant at 20 Jalan Pari Burong in Bedok.
Mummy Yummy staff who are also family members of the founders, (from far left) Ms Cheng Yihui, 28, Mr Chan Guo Xiong, 35, and Ms Ang Hwee Shi, 25, with dishes they serve at their vegetarian restaurant at 20 Jalan Pari Burong in Bedok.ST PHOTO: JEREMY KWAN

Four good friends came together in 2013 to cook and distribute free meals every week to 100 needy residents living in Chinatown.

The group, started by four mothers Ong Choon Hoy, 66, Lai Huay Lim, 61, Quak Kah Hoe, 57, and Loh Mui Khim, 52, became Mummy Yummy, a ground-up initiative that gives out free food to people in need.

Today, the food distribution network has grown much bigger, giving out more than 30,000 meals to the needy across Singapore every month. Around 1,000 meals are distributed every day.

Over the years, as the demand grew, the four women realised they needed a central kitchen to produce enough cooked food, but lacked the funds to start one.

So one by one, they sold their homes to fund the operations.

The women and their families now live together in a rented landed property. They also rely on donations to fund the operations.

Mr Chan Guo Xiong, 35, who is overall in charge of Mummy Yummy, said: "We are not operating at a profit but we do what we do because there are people who need the meals. We believe that if we do the right thing, people will help us."

The secondary school teacher helps oversee the operations at three cooking spaces - two food stalls and a restaurant.

All the work is done by family members of the four women, with help from around 3,000 active volunteers every month.

The group used to have a stall in Shenton House where the food was sold at a discount to cleaners and security guards, who found it hard to afford meals in the Central Business District. This stall closed in September, leaving the group with two stalls selling vegetarian food in Ayer Rajah, and Amoy Street in Chinatown.

  • 1000

  • Number of meals distributed by Mummy Yummy every day.

 

These stalls also cater to low-income workers in town as they operate on a pay-what-you-can concept.

Earlier this month, the group opened a new vegetarian restaurant in Bedok that also operates as its centralised kitchen to carry out the cooking and distribution of food. Dine-in customers also decide on how much they pay for their meals. The restaurant at 20 Jalan Pari Burong also doubles as a gathering and activity space for elderly beneficiaries.

"We don't want the elderly to feel 'paiseh' ("ashamed" in Hokkien) like they are a charity case. We want the elderly who walk in to feel welcomed, like this is home," said Mr Chan.

You can learn more about the group on its Facebook page. 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 19, 2019, with the headline 'Four families sold their homes to cook for the needy'. Subscribe