For the first time in their lives, eight-year-old Jayben Louis and his 14-year-old sister Sabrina got to choose what to buy at a supermarket for free.
Crowdfunding charity Ray of Hope had given vouchers to the siblings and other low-income residents from Henderson and Chong Pang to let them choose what they wanted, instead of just distributing packs of grocery items to them.
The initiative on Wednesday was a joint effort by various charities, grassroots organisations as well as corporate sponsor HSBC.
The 500 low-income households were given vouchers to shop at two pop-up supermarkets for what they needed or wanted.
The amounts they received were based on their household size, such that each household received between $30 and $80.
The initiative is aimed at reducing wastage of food and beverages left sitting in the homes of beneficiaries, usually in excess because of uncoordinated giving.
"We realise that a lot of these residents have stockpiles of rice at home because everyone gives rice, instant noodles... It's a good sign that the community is helping, but here's a chance for the residents to choose what they want, and buy what they need instead," said Mr Louis Ng, an MP for Nee Soon GRC.
"You serve two important purposes: one, you empower them, and two, you reduce waste."
Ray of Hope general manager Tan En said the individuals and families often get foodstuff they do not eat or use, which leads to wastage.
Ms Donna Cheng, director of The Majurity Trust, the philanthropic organisation that manages Ray of Hope, said some food items donated to elderly residents often go to waste because the items are unsuitable. For instance, the elderly may find biscuits too hard, beverages too sweet and oily food difficult to digest.
SERVING TWIN PURPOSES
Here's a chance for the residents to choose what they want, and buy what they need instead... You serve two important purposes: one, you empower them, and two, you reduce waste.
MR LOUIS NG, an MP for Nee Soon GRC, on how the supermarket initiative benefits needy residents.
The initiative did not leave out people with physical disabilities or elderly residents who are unable to leave their homes, added Ms Cheng. Volunteers delivered goods from the supermarkets straight to their homes.
Many residents who made their way to the pop-up supermarkets were happy with their purchases.
Jayben and Sabrina got to choose their favourite items - kaya and Milo for him, and cornflakes and milk for her. "It's very helpful. Many of the things I like are here. But I wish there were toys for sale too,'' said Jayben with a shy smile.