SINGAPORE - Two catering companies have joined the Meals-on-Wheels scheme to deliver food to needy elderly people.
Samsui Supplies and Services and Stamford Catering Services are the first private firms to join the programme and will deliver meals in central and southern Singapore.
Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor announced the expansion of the scheme on Thursday (Sept 13).
"Over the years, there has been an increase in the demand for meals-on-wheels services," she said. "We feel that this public-private model is a signal of the joint commitment of the sectors to work together to meet the needs of an ageing population."
Dr Khor was speaking to the media on the sidelines of a visit to a beneficiary's home.
Meals-on-Wheels dishes up nearly 4,800 meals daily, up from 3,500 meals in 2014.
Before the two new caterers joined the scheme in June, all meals were being delivered by six voluntary welfare organisations.
Meals are typically provided to frail or housebound seniors who are unable to get food on their own. Seniors can opt for up to two meals a day, and can request halal or vegetarian food.
Mr Kelvin Lim, who is chief of the Agency for Integrated Care's (AIC) senior support and carer services development division, said the private sector is an extra resource that can help to serve seniors in need. The government agency helps to coordinate aged care services across Singapore.
"Our guiding principle is that the elderly should be able to benefit," Mr Lim said.
Among the beneficiaries is Mr Liew Ngee Khiam, who contracted polio in childhood and now cannot walk on his own.
In 2013, the 63-year-old was referred to Touch Home Care, which helped sign him up for the Meals-on-Wheels service and also saw to his other needs.
Now, Mr Liew gets two meals delivered a day - typically porridge, vegetables, and either fish or chicken.
"They have helped me a lot," Mr Liew said in Mandarin. "And the food is good. It's soft, which is good because I have no teeth."