Sunday 24 June 2012

Food Connect @ South West: Free food rations for more lower-income families

550 families to benefit from CDC scheme, thanks to donations from more firms
By Goh Shi Ting, The Straits Times, 23 Jun 2012

ALMOST double the number of low-income families living in the South West District will get free food rations every month, for two years.

In all, 550 families will receive the rations, worth $50, from July 1, compared to 320 families last year.

The rations include rice, canned food and biscuits, and are given by the South West Community Development Council (CDC) under its Food Connect@South West programme.

The bigger group of beneficiaries this year is the result of the longer list of companies that are contributing this year to the programme's second phase, which was launched yesterday.

Altogether, 30 trade and professional associations, and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have pledged to donate $300,000 to pay for the food rations.

In total, $600,000 will be raised as the South West CDC will match dollar-for-dollar the amount donated.

The total sum is three times the amount contributed by 22 companies for the one-year pilot programme last year.

In his speech, Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang expressed the hope that the programme will expand as word spreads to other associations and benefit more families.

South West District Mayor Amy Khor, who is also the Minister of State for Health, said she was heartened by the increase in corporate participation.

'More SMEs are aware and desire to be socially responsible corporate citizens,' she added. 'Many companies are approaching us directly to work with us to identify... causes they can help champion.'

The largest donor is catering company Neo Group, which pledged $120,000 to be given over two years. It is also a first-timer to the Food Connect programme. Said its chief executive Neo Kah Kiat: 'I want to encourage a culture of giving so I told my staff to donate at least 10 cents and we slowly increase from there.'

He is also getting his 400 staff to distribute food rations at three blocks of rental flats in Taman Jurong during festive seasons, such as Chinese New Year.

One beneficiary, 75-year-old Lo Choo How, who is receiving public assistance, finds the food ration useful as he has been advised to eat healthily.

'The food ration also helps me save money when I cook the rice and eat biscuits at home,' he said.

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