Mr Edward Chia Bing Hui asked the Minister for Social and Family Development how is the Ministry working with the Ministry for Sustainability and the Environment and food charities to prevent duplication of food distribution to reduce manpower wastage and to ensure consistency in distribution quantities.
1 The charity food landscape is variegated. Besides food charities providing food support, there are also numerous ground-up initiatives by volunteer groups, grassroots organisations and corporates. Many initiatives, while well-intended, are uncoordinated and some are ad hoc rather than regular activities. Food wastage on the ground can occur when households receive duplicative food support, or food support that is unsuitable for their needs. For example, beneficiaries who are diabetic may receive white rice and bread which they are unable to consume.
2 It was in this context that MSF convened the Charity Food Workgroup (CFWG) in 2019, to enable a more coordinated and data-driven approach to charity food support that would reduce duplication and wastage. The Workgroup comprises food support organisations (namely The Food Bank, Food from the Heart, Free Food for All, Willing Hearts, Mummy Yummy, Singapore Buddhist Welfare Services), volunteers, corporates, and government agencies (MSF, the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment, the Health Promotion Board, the Government Technology Agency, the National Environment Agency and the Singapore Food Agency).
3 A simple way to reduce food waste is to enable beneficiaries to choose the type and amount of food support they need. Our CFWG partners have rolled out innovative initiatives such as community shops, meal redemptions, vending machines, and community fridges. These efforts not only preserve beneficiaries’ dignity of choice, but also make food distribution more efficient and less wasteful.
4 We are also building capabilities to improve local level coordination and prevent duplication of food support. Local food coordinators (LFCs) have been appointed in three areas – Jalan Kukoh, Kampong Glam and Kembangan-Chai Chee – to coordinate and deconflict local charity food support efforts, particularly festive or corporate giving efforts. MSF is coordinating the development of a food directory and database. This will further support our LFCs and food support organisations, as they will be able to check on duplications and coordinate with other food support organisations to best support the household in need. The food directory will enable members of the public or social service agencies to search for food support based on location or dietary requirements. These would enable better matching, better coordination and reduced duplication.
5 Members of the CFWG are also working with MP Louis Ng towards the introduction of a Private Member’s Bill, to encourage food donations and reduce food wastage, while ensuring food safety.