Man delivers food to neighbours in Yishun - with no delivery charge

Mr James Chen offers this "food delivery" service about four times a week, with more than 20 orders each time.
Mr James Chen offers this "food delivery" service about four times a week, with more than 20 orders each time.PHOTO: SHIN MIN DAILY NEWS

SINGAPORE - He may not work for Deliveroo or foodpanda, but Singaporean James Chen delivers food to people in his neighbourhood all the same.

And he is doing all this - with no delivery fee.

The 37-year-old senior marketing manager has been offering a "delivery service" to his neighbours at his executive condominium, Signature at Yishun, as well as residents of the nearby executive condo, The Criterion.

Mr Chen, who was first featured in Chinese newspaper Shin Min Daily News, told The Straits Times that he offers "food delivery" service about four times a week. Most of the time, he receives more than 20 orders.

His "customers" are all part of a WhatsApp group. Mr Chen, a self-professed foodie, would announce in the chat group that he would be visiting a certain eatery or trying out a new stall. He would then take "orders" from the rest who would collect the food from him when he is back.

He started the group in July, with about 10 people, to discuss food and share related articles. But he soon realised that many in the group did not have the time to visit the eateries being discussed. That was when he decided to deliver food to them.

Through word of mouth, the WhatsApp group has grown to more than 90 people.

Despite the trouble he goes through, he does not charge any delivery fee. He gets paid only for the food.

He said he is doing this in the spirit of neighbourliness, and as part of the "sharing economy".

Mr Chen, who regularly travels around Singapore to find good food and take it back for his family, told ST: "Since I am already in the queue, I might as well offer to buy food for my neighbours to save them the time of queueing up."

The eateries are not all near his house - he once drove all the way to Westgate mall in Jurong East to buy Taiwanese steamed cakes.

He also hopes to share good food with neighbours who may not have the time to venture far, such as those who are pregnant or have young children to look after.

"Food is as common a language to Singaporeans as Singlish is," he said.

Once, he received orders for around 30 packets of food.

Although he acknowledged that it took quite a lot of effort to do this, he is happy to continue offering the service.

"After all, these people are my neighbours," he said.

Mr Chen said he would like to work for a food delivery company in the future, but he emphasised this was not the reason why he started his service.

Ms Cindy Chan, 26, who is Mr Chen's neighbour, said: "There are a lot of mothers here who are stuck at home... our home is not near the shopping centre, and the foodcourt nearby would not normally have many options."

The business manager has been "ordering" food at least once a week from Mr Chen since September.

Ms Chan added: "Whenever he delivers the food, it's always fresh and warm."