Singapore launches portal to locate affordable meal options in HDB coffee shops

Singapore launches portal to locate affordable meal options in HDB coffee shops

SINGAPORE – The Housing and Development Board (HDB) and the Government Technology Agency (GovTech) have launched a new portal, “BudgetMealGoWhere,” designed to help consumers easily locate HDB coffee shops offering budget meals.

Announced in a joint statement on Friday (19 May), the platform enables the public to search for budget meal options in their vicinity using their postal codes.

Once the postal code is entered, the website will list coffee shops within a 2km radius, displaying the budget meals and drinks available. Users will also be able to access the portal via the LifeSG mobile application and website.

“Budget meal options” refer to affordable lunch or dinner meals, priced lower than the average price of meals sold at nearby establishments. Ms Sim Ann, Minister of State for National Development, revealed earlier in March that all coffee shops leased from HDB have been required to offer budget meal options upon their tenancy renewal since May.

As part of the initiative, all older coffee shops leased from HDB and due for renewal will need to provide at least four budget meals and two budget drinks from different stalls as a condition of their tenancy renewal.

Two of these meals must be rice-based, and one must be halal, accompanied by two budget drink options, black coffee (kopi-o) and black tea (teh-o).

“The budget meal and drink prices will be benchmarked against economically priced food-and-beverage offerings in nearby neighbourhood coffee shops,” Ms. Sim said.

By 2026, all 374 HDB rental coffee shops, out of a total of 776 coffee shops in Singapore, will offer budget meals. The new BudgetMealGoWhere website already lists about 40 coffee shops, with plans to add more progressively.

HDB and GovTech intend to continuously improve the website’s functionality, making it more useful for Singaporeans. To assist customers in identifying budget meals, participating stalls will display budget meal decal stickers on their food display signage.

Over the past five years, HDB has completed 37 new coffee shops, with an additional 34 slated for completion in the next five years. This is part of HDB’s efforts to ensure residents have access to affordable cooked food.

Last month, Ms Sim shared images of menus displaying prices of budget meals at stalls she frequented. This was to dispel doubts following her post about a budget dinner of mixed rice and kopi-O, priced at S$3.00 and S$0.70 respectively. The post attracted skepticism from netizens, questioning the availability of such low-priced meals in Singapore.

An Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) study, titled “The Cost of Eating Out: Findings from the Makan Index 2.0,” found that the average cost of a mixed rice meal at Jurong West, where Ms. Sim dined, is S$3.50, while the lowest-priced meal is S$3.20.

In response to skepticism, Ms Sim highlighted the ongoing plans to expand the provision of budget meals to all HDB coffee shops. She explained that since 2018, HDB has been introducing the requirement for budget meals at its coffee shops under the Price-Quality Method (PQM), requiring operators to provide budget meals and a budget drink with affordable pricing compared to surrounding F&B options.

Ms Sim also expressed the government’s willingness to collaborate with the private sector to enhance food affordability and invited major coffee shop chains to discuss ways of offering budget meals to customers.

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