Free meals for 30 seniors in Toa Payoh East

Thirty elderly residents in Toa Payoh East-Novena have been given coupons to redeem free meals on weekdays, under a programme by Toa Payoh East CCC. The Pioneer Generation Office had alerted the CCC to lonely seniors, and grassroots volunteers also identi
Thirty elderly residents in Toa Payoh East-Novena have been given coupons to redeem free meals on weekdays, under a programme by Toa Payoh East CCC. The Pioneer Generation Office had alerted the CCC to lonely seniors, and grassroots volunteers also identified vulnerable residents for the programme. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Every weekday, retiree Soh See Chan, 87, visits the Kim Keat Palm Food Centre or coffeeshops in Lorong 7 Toa Payoh for a free lunch, thanks to a programme for 30 residents in Toa Payoh East-Novena.

"I come here to eat and take food back for my wife," he said. He lives in a three-room flat with his wife, who is wheelchair-bound due to a stroke. Their adult daughters give them some money monthly.

Beneficiaries like Mr Soh are given coupons which entitle them to a free meal, which includes a drink or a fruit from participating stalls during lunchtime.

Donors contribute money for the meals, which are provided at subsidised prices by seven stall owners.

The chairman of Toa Payoh East Citizens' Consultative Committee (CCC), Mr James Teo, said the Pioneer Generation Office had alerted them to lonely seniors, and grassroots volunteers also identified vulnerable residents for the programme.

The CCC estimates the cost of the programme, which started on Monday, to be between $2,000 and $3,000 a month. Mr Teo added that they have enough funds to run the programme for 11/2 years.

Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC MP Saktiandi Supaat said they hope to expand the project and reach out especially to those not on existing programmes run by voluntary welfare organisations.

Hawker Tan Cheng Heng, 56, is the only drink-stall owner on board at the moment. He said: "This is for charity, so I'm not afraid to sell it to them with a 50-cent discount."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2017, with the headline 'Free meals for 30 seniors in Toa Payoh East'. Print Edition | Subscribe