By Jade Yong (Intern)
Three weeks ago, I participated in a food drive organized by Beyond Social Services at the rental flats in Henderson. Even before the event started, we could see a long line of residents queuing up, an indication of how important getting a share of free fresh food was to them. For these residents, their meals are often made up of canned/ dried food and instant noodles.
The food drive was organized such that the beneficiaries would enter the area where the food was laid and picked up what they wanted for a limited amount of time. In the very first round, I was very surprised to see how swift and ‘garang’ they were! Despite their old age, they grabbed stalks and stalks of vegetables into their boxes or trolleys. This continued for the next rounds and the fresh vegetables were wiped out in no time.
In hindsight, their actions are rather understandable because fresh produce was truly a luxury to them. The social worker shared that it was highly difficult for them to purchase fresh food due to the higher cost. Their relative immobility also made it hard to travel to the wet market or supermarket.
At the end of the food drive, I walked around and spotted a few children playing at the playground. I couldn’t help but notice how skinny they all were and my heart ached for them. These children from the low-income groups are all growing but they often eat instant noodles/ canned food to satisfy their hunger. The nutrition level of such kinds of food is not ideal especially at a time of growth and development. They definitely need more nutritious food just like the working adults who often do laborious jobs or elderly with health conditions living in the rental flats.
Food insecurity EXISTS in Singapore even if many of us may not experience or see it. I believe that we can all do our part to ensure that we make the term “Food Paradise” truly inclusive, even for the underprivileged.