Dignity Kitchen lends a helping hand to the underprivileged
As Madam Tay Lee Keng, 62, rolls dough, she keeps glancing at the oven where pastries are baking.
She has to do this because she is deaf and must rely on visual cues like the timer to check if the pastries are ready.
She is one of 62 employees at Dignity Kitchen, a foodcourt at Block 267, Serangoon Avenue 3, which trains and employs the socially and physically disadvantaged.
Its executive director, Mr Koh Seng Choon, 58, started the venture in 2010 to help disabled and low-income members of the community earn a dignified living by operating food stalls.
The foodcourt, which is open to the public, sells hawker fare such as mee rebus, wanton noodles and economy rice.
In 2015, Mr Koh started giving free meals, called Dignity Meals, to underprivileged beneficiaries and cleaners in the area every Monday.
Last December, the free meals became available every weekday to beneficiaries identified by social service organisations such as SG Enable and Serangoon Moral Family Service Centre.
Mr Koh told The New Paper: "People need to eat every day. You can't expect them to eat just for one day and starve for the rest of the week. That was why we extended the programme."
His workers also deliver food to the homes of beneficiaries who are unable to collect it.
Its Lunch Treat for the Elderly programme also provides free meals to residents in retirement homes and rehabilitation centres.
Mr Koh said about 52,000 elderly people had been served every weekday for the past seven years.
Member of Parliament for Marine Parade GRC Seah Kian Peng lauded Dignity Kitchen's efforts as commendable.
He said: "It has been making a big difference for the elderly and underprivileged, as well as the disadvantaged, by helping them develop the skills to seek gainful employment and support themselves.
"Dignity Kitchen is a prime example of an organisation that is actively encouraging a more inclusive and caring Singaporean society."
But business has not been good for the hawkers in the foodcourt.
Mr Koh said Singaporeans seem to be wary of buying food from disabled hawkers, but he remains enthusiastic about helping the underprivileged.
"There will always be people in much more difficult situations than us, so we should do all that we can to help them."