Ramadan free meal scheme in Woodlands goes digital

(From left) Madam Salmah Ahmat and her son, Mr Muhammad Azaman using an E-Card to redeem a free meal at Kampung Admiralty Hawker Centre on April 18, 2021.
(From left) Madam Salmah Ahmat and her son, Mr Muhammad Azaman using an E-Card to redeem a free meal at Kampung Admiralty Hawker Centre on April 18, 2021.ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG

SINGAPORE - Since it was set up in 2016, a popular scheme that distributes free briyani meals to Woodlands residents from the foot of a Housing Board block during the Ramadan fasting month would typically attract hundreds of people each time.

While the coronavirus situation is now under control, such large crowds would still pose a risk to residents.

To address this, a new scheme was devised under which residents can sign up for the free meals online and be able to collect them any day of the week.

Ramadan Belanja-A-Meal @ Woodlands is the brainchild of the Woodlands Malay Activity Executive Committee and Woodlands Digital Office under Woodlands Community Club (CC).

They said in a statement on Thursday (April 15) that residents can collect one free meal a week from designated hawker and coffee shop stalls.

The scheme kicked off last week and will last till the end of the fasting month.

The free meals will be given on a first-come, first-served basis, and priority will be given to those who are from the lower-income group.

Those who sign up will receive an e-card with a QR code on their phones, which they can show to stallholders any day of the week to collect their meals.

Up to 1,000 meals will be distributed every week, and those who do not own smartphones can also collect physical cards at the CC.

Sembawang GRC MP Mariam Jaafar, who launched the scheme at Kampung Admiralty Hawker Centre on Sunday (April 18), said it will also benefit stallholders by bringing more business to them.

"While it's nice to have a lot of people come together in a big crowd, this is a good way to go forward given the constraints of the Covid-19 situation," added Ms Mariam, who oversees Woodlands ward.

Madam Salmah Ahmat, 73, and her son Muhammad Azaman, 41, were able to redeem two meals of nasi goreng from the hawker centre on Sunday.

"Our financial situation is tight, and sometimes when we don't have enough to eat, we will just eat bread. This is very helpful for us," said Madam Salmah, a retired cleaner who lives in a rental flat.

Another Woodlands resident, a food stall helper who wanted to be known only as Mr Ahmad, 46, said: "I can also eat out more with my family without having to worry about the cost."


Mariam Jaafar (second from right), MP for Sembawang GRC, as she distributes dates at the Kampung Admiralty Hawker Centre on April 18, 2021. ST PHOTO: CHONG JUN LIANG