Mr Leon Perera: Mr Chairman, Sir, a recent study estimated that 10% of resident households were food insecure in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this, with many low-income families struggling from the financial fallout. Food distribution drives do important work, but may be fragmented and lead to food wastage if rations are unsuitable due to health preference or dietary reasons. I propose that the Government coordinate food aid by expanding the Community Shop concept of public rental flats and pockets of low-income family areas islandwide. The Community Shop was launched by Food from the Heart and lets beneficiaries choose some groceries every month for free from special minimarts in their area. This caters to different needs of beneficiary households, such as those who cook and do not cook, those with children or elderly who may require certain foods. Participants appreciate the flexibility and freedom of choice. Ninety-eight percent of respondents selected it as their preferred type of food programme after the first year.
I also propose an electronic point-of-sale system with digital currency loaded in a card. A large proportion of the credits could be earmarked for healthier food products to encourage healthy eating. The card could also be used at participating hawker stalls for those who do not cook. This repeats two calls in my recent Adjournment Motions on preventive health and hawkers. NGO Food Bank Singapore has piloted a similar Tap-A-Meal initiative, where beneficiaries are given cards loaded with credit to order what they wish from Encik Tan’s menu.
9 March 2022
Ministry of Social and Family Development