Charity organisation Food from the Heart (FFTH) has opened its first Community Shop@Mountbatten where needy households can get their preferred food items for free, instead of standard donation packages.

As the store was launched on 8 February at Block 13 Old Airport Road, following Singapore’s Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) level to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak being raised to Orange a day prior. Safety measures such as temperature taking and sanitizing of hands for all guests were implemented to prevent the spreading of the virus.

FFTH’s Chief Executive Officer Sim Bee Hia noted that beneficiaries should not be deprived of food because of the virus.

Community Shop@Mountbatten is aimed to cater to 500 needy households from the Mountbatten and MacPherson neighbourhoods.

Yahoo News Singapore reported that the development of the store will also help to minimize the stockpiling of unwanted food items and reduce food wastage.

Mountbatten MP Lim Biow Chua said beneficiaries come from different backgrounds and have their own dietary preferences and restrictions, The Straits Times reported.

However, social service centres are unable to customize food packs for each beneficiary, thus the food packs collected sometimes contain food items that they cannot consume.  

“The community shop resolves some of these problems (as) beneficiaries can collect what they need, when they need them,” Mr Lim said.

The store enables beneficiaries to choose up to 12 items a month and “purchase” them by scanning their beneficiary cards at the counter which is manned by FFTH volunteers.

In addition, the charity staff can collect data on dietary preferences of the beneficiaries through the system, which allows them to restock high-demand food items.

The public can also drop off the food items that they want to donate in a food drop box at the store. A sign was put up outside the store to inform passers-by on the kind of food items that are needed.

Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee added that the needy are granted dignity when they are given with choices.   

“Being able to select what they want is an intangible and valuable gift. Beyond the food item, you give residents a choice. I think that’s very powerful,” Mr Lee said.

Meanwhile, Yahoo News Singapore also reported that OCBC Bank announced a donation of S$300,000 over five years and volunteer support for the community store.

The five-year donation will be allocated to fund the store’s setup, operations, and food supplies.

“Over the years, FFTH’s efforts to uplift food security levels in Singapore has evolved to become more meaningful and relevant. We are glad to be able to support them in their journey,” said Koh Ching Ching, OCBC’s head of group brand and communications.

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