Many going hungry amid pandemic, say food charities
More expected to struggle in months ahead amid weak job market and when government handouts taper off
Getting enough food to eat is becoming a problem for a group of Singaporeans, and the numbers are growing amid the Covid-19 pandemic, said major food charities.
These are families who used to get by on their own without support and did not expect they would need help from charities, but are now struggling due to job loss or income cuts. Many are shy and do not know where to seek help.
And more people are likely to go hungry in the months to come amid a weak job market, and when government handouts and schemes taper off, said The Food Bank Singapore co-founder Nichol Ng.
During the pandemic, the Food Bank has given out at least 2,800 food bundles and 537 emergency ration boxes - mostly to families hit by the crisis. Its Feed The City initiative also delivered cooked food to some of these families.
Another charity, Food From The Heart, has helped about 300 interim beneficiaries since April, while Free Food For All said about 10 per cent of its beneficiaries have lost their jobs during the pandemic.
Ms Ng said The Food Bank conducted a study last year on "food insecurity" in Singapore and is planning to do another soon to find out if needs have changed.
Food insecurity is used to describe a situation where people face challenges in obtaining sufficient, safe and nutritious food.
In the in-depth study it commissioned last year, the Food Bank found that one in 10 Singaporeans struggled to get sufficient, safe and nutritious food at least once in the last 12 months.
Of this, 10.4 per cent, or two out of five households, struggled to get such food at least once a month. The findings were released in September.
Food From The Heart's chief executive Sim Bee Hia said: "It takes a lot of courage to ask for food aid. In Singapore, the assumption of many is: Why can't you just buy instant noodles or have even $3 to buy a packet of chicken rice?"
The food support sector is anchored by four large food charities - The Food Bank, Food From The Heart, Free Food For All, and Willing Hearts.
They give out different types of food support, such as warm cooked meals, ready-to-eat frozen meals, groceries and meal card programmes.
Some run community shops where beneficiaries can regularly pick up free food items.
Together, they help at least 250,000 people, who are mostly referred to them by the Ministry of Social and Family Development or social service agencies.