Pilot to encourage public to donate meals to needy launched in Pasir Ris

SINGAPORE: A pilot programme that encourages the public to pay-it-forward by paying for the meals of needy residents in Pasir Ris was launched by NTUC Foodfare on Saturday (Jul 14).

Through the Gift-A-Meal programme, the public will be able to make donations at Pasir Ris Central Hawker Centre in the form of meals at S$3.50 each. This can be done through the NTUC Foodfare mobile app or through the hawkers.

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Funds raised by the programme will be administered by the Community Development & Welfare Fund, which will identify families in need. According to NTUC Foodfare, some 30 families are expected to benefit from the pilot.

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The programme was launched during the official opening of the Pasir Ris Central Hawker Centre on Saturday (Jul 14), which started operations in January.

The hawker centre has 20 food stalls selling local hawker dishes on the first floor, and 22 stalls offering modern cuisine on the top floor. 

To keep healthy meals affordable, each stall offers at least two budget meals priced from S$2.80. 

NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng said NTUC enterprises like Foodfare play a key role in helping to regulate the cost of essential everyday items.

"As the cost of living rises in Singapore, many Singaporeans are concerned about having to cope with basic necessities," he said. 

"We take this role seriously and will work hard to ensure that we continue to enable Singaporeans to live better and more meaningful lives." 

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While the programme aims to benefit needy residents, stall vendors Channel NewsAsia spoke to said they hoped it would help to bring more business too.

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Since the hawker centre started operations in January, four stalls have closed down.

"Some people still don’t know that our store at the hawker centre is open, so maybe that’s why they aren’t really coming here," said Mr Lai Yi Sue, who runs a vegetarian food stall.

Some stall vendors cited the location and lack of public awareness as reasons for the closures.

"We don’t get office crowd because it’s a residential area, so it’s quite quiet during the day. Business is usually a bit better at night or on weekends," said Mr Jason Yeo, who runs a fruit juice stall at the centre.

"The hawker centre is quite central but it’s not that near to the MRT station, so it may be a bit inconvenient for some," said one stall vendor, who declined to be named.