Food Insecurity in Singapore: Statistics and Resources Available

Parliamentary Question, 7 Oct 2019

Ms Anthea Ong asked the Minister for Social and Family Development over the past five years (a) what is the number of Singaporeans and PRs who are suffering from food insecurity, broken down to different extents; (b) how does the Government measure food insecurity and why is this method chosen; © what is the total amount of social welfare budget spent on providing food support; (d) how many charities in Singapore provide food support, broken down by type of food support; and (e) what is the total estimated operating expenditure of these charities in providing food support.

Mr Desmond Lee: Whilst the Ministry of Social and Family Development does not track the number of Singapore Residents specifically experiencing food insecurity, we support low-income households in a number of ways, including with their food-related needs.

When people apply to the Social Service Offices (SSOs) for assistance under ComCare, their needs are assessed holistically — finances, food, healthcare, employment, family-relationship issues, and housing. When ComCare financial assistance is provided, it includes provision for food. Based on the assessed needs, SSOs may also link families with other Government agencies and social service agencies for other forms of support. One example is the Ministry of Health’s Meals-on-Wheels programme, which provides cooked meal deliveries to eligible clients who are unable to buy and prepare their own meals.

The community plays a strong role in complementing the Government’s efforts on food issues. MSF is aware of more than 20 registered charities and a growing number of informal groups in Singapore providing a variety of food support, including cooked meals, dry rations, and perishables, such as bread and vegetables. Apart from such charities, grassroots organisations and religious organisations such as mosques, churches and temples also provide free food to those in need. These organisations and informal groups are largely volunteer-driven and collaborate closely with community agencies such as Family Service Centres in their food collection and distribution.

These community efforts provide support for households to meet their food-related needs, while contributing to food sustainability and reduced food wastage in Singapore.

Such collaborations are good examples of the impact the community can make, and how the community can partner with the Government to support those in need.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Anthea Ong is a Nominated Member of Parliament. (A Nominated Member of Parliament (NMP) is a Member of the Parliament of Singapore who is appointed by the President. They are not affiliated to any political party and do not represent any constituency. There are currently nine NMPs in Parliament.)

The multi-sector perspective that comes from her ground immersion of 12 years in different capacities helps her translate single-sector issues and ideas across boundaries without alienating any particular community/group. As an entrepreneur and with many years in business leadership, it is innate in her to discuss social issues with the intent of finding solutions, or at least of exploring possibilities. She champions mental health, diversity and inclusion — and volunteerism in Parliament.

She is also an impact entrepreneur/investor and a passionate mental health advocate, especially in workplace wellbeing. She started WorkWell Leaders Workgroup in May 2018 to bring together top leaders (CXOs, Heads of HR/CSR/D&I) of top employers in Singapore (both public and private) to share, discuss and co-create inclusive practices to promote workplace wellbeing. Anthea is also the founder of Hush TeaBar, Singapore’s 1st silent teabar and a social movement that aims to bring silence, self care and social inclusion into every workplace, every community — with a cup of tea. The Hush Experience is completely led by lovingly-trained Deaf facilitators, supported by a team of Persons with Mental Health Issues (PMHIs).

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A full-time human, and part-time everything else.

A full-time human, and part-time everything else.