Feeding Hong Kong recently ran an exchange programme with The Food Bank Singapore, providing an opportunity for both organisations to share insights, best practices, and innovative approaches to addressing food insecurity in their respective communities.
In February, Edmond Lo, Food Sourcing Executive from Feeding Hong Kong, had the opportunity to visit The Foodbank Singapore (FBSG). Shortly afterwards, Ng Wei Ming, Management Executive of FBSG paid a visit to Hong Kong.
Like Feeding Hong Kong, FBSG receives donated food, much of which would otherwise be wasted, and makes it available to those in need via a network of charity partners. We are both registered members of The Global Foodbanking Network.
Edmond said, “One key issue discussed was that 10.4% of those surveyed in FBSG’s 2020 Hunger Report had experienced food insecurity.” FBSG is committed to helping these underprivileged individuals and families and has implemented innovative programmes such as a vending machine project to make nutritious food more accessible.
This innovative project, launched during the COVID-19 pandemic, uses vending machines to provide food to those in need. Food recipients may receive nutritious meals without needing to visit the food bank, thanks to around 40 vending machines in 14 locations across Singapore. Especially during the pandemic, these machines provided a safe, socially distanced, flexible and convenient way for those in need to access food support. Another programme that Edmond learned about was the bank card programme, which allows food recipients to use preloaded cards to redeem food from local eateries, providing recipients with more food options and agency.
During his visit, Edmond also had a meeting with Singapore’s Ministry of Social and Family Development to discuss the vending machine project and how it could potentially be implemented throughout the country. This demonstrates the government’s interest and willingness to work with food banks like FBSG to address food insecurity issues.
He commented, “This shows the importance of coordination among food banks, ensuring they work together efficiently, minimise duplication, and maximise impact. For example, food banks can strategically focus on different areas of the country or city, or on different food industry businesses.”
In fact, Edmond found that the Singapore society including the F&B industry was highly receptive and open to food donation, and saw support from government as well as a strong level of willingness in food companies to increase food donations where appropriate.
While discussing a food bank’s key to success, Edmond believed that agility is important, as change is the norm. “It is very important to have a fresh mindset and be open to change, which is necessary to adapt and respond to the needs of the community.” For example, FBSG was able to implement a programme to deliver millions of meals during the nation’s lockdown during the pandemic, demonstrating their ability to respond swiftly to emerging needs.
Besides hard work, Edmond also had some fun and unforgettable experiences during his visit to Singapore. He had the opportunity to join the team as they collected surplus food from donation boxes and food drives. What made this experience particularly unusual was that he didn’t sit in the co-pilot’s seat during the journey. Instead, he sat together with the collected food in the back of the car, sipping on the famous local drink, Milo. “I have never sat with food at the back of the car! It was really interesting!” Edmond said.
At Feeding Hong Kong, we are constantly looking for new ways to support the community and ensure that surplus food is put to good use. Our visit to FBSG was an opportunity to learn from our sister food bank and explore new ways to make a difference. We are grateful for their hospitality and look forward to continuing to work together to build a more equitable and sustainable future.
Huge thanks to The Food Bank Singapore, for your innovative approach, hard work and commitment to serving the community!
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