SINGAPORE: As the wave of inflation continues to impact households, volunteer groups are reporting a significant uptick in the number of individuals seeking free food assistance. Families and organizations engaged in charitable endeavours are witnessing a surge in demand, highlighting the widening impact of escalating food prices on vulnerable communities.

One such family, dedicated to supporting their local community, shared with Channel 8 the noticeable increase in individuals seeking free food provisions. Despite the Fariq family’s own financial challenges due to a 10 per cent rise in food costs, their commitment to providing assistance remains unwavering, and they keep a table outside their flat stocked with essential food such as rice, coffee and cereal.

Mr Asanul Fariq Sani said, “It affected our expenditure, but at the end of the day, we feel content. We feel very happy.”

His wife, Norhasyimah Awaludin, said they plan to explore more affordable sourcing options, including direct purchases from warehouses instead of retail stores, to keep the free food drive alive.

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The intersection of technology and charity is evident in the GoodHood app, which facilitates sharing supplies, including food, among community members. The app’s founder revealed that the demand for food has surged fivefold in the past two months compared to the same period last year.

In response to the escalating need, GoodHood plans to launch a new feature next month, granting priority in supply distribution to vulnerable groups holding cards from specific social security assistance schemes.

Nigel Teo, the founder of the social service app, emphasized the importance of addressing delivery costs, stating, “We also ask donors to indicate whether they are willing to bear the delivery costs because, especially those with lower incomes, may want items but may have difficulty in receiving them.”

Supermarkets are also stepping up to address the growing demand for free or lower-priced food. FairPrice Group, in collaboration with residents’ committees, initiated a program last month delivering unsightly fresh produce to ten neighbourhood refrigerators weekly.

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Buoyed by positive responses, the group has announced plans to expand this initiative, further bolstering efforts to combat food insecurity.