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Food For Good: Citi and YMCA of Singapore Partner to Support Vulnerable Groups



85-year-old Mdm Koh Bee Eng lives alone in a rental flat. Having retired from her previous work at offices and fast food chains, she is now a recipient of subsidies and financial aid for her daily needs. Since the COVID-19 crisis, official advisories caution seniors like her against leaving their homes to avoid exposure to the virus. This has caused completing her daily tasks independently, such as accessing food and necessities, to become more difficult.

Philanthropic support from Citi Foundation will enable YMCA of Singapore to help individuals like Mdm Koh and similar families in need. Citi’s support will see close to S$210,000 of grants being given to fund the Citi-YMCA Food for Good Programme which consists of two food distribution initiatives – Project Makan and YMCA Wok the Talk (WTT). The funding will translate to more than 45,000 meals and grocery packs to be distributed over a three-month period for vulnerable communities including seniors, migrant workers, students, youth-in-need and persons with special needs to provide immediate relief from COVID-19 impact. “During this COVID-19 pandemic, we still have such compassionate and warm-hearted volunteers delivering food to our door, to each of us who need a little bit of support. I am very grateful and very happy as I eat the meals. I want to say a huge thank you to all involved,” said Mdm Koh. “It is a privilege to partner organisations like Citi in our COVID-19 relief programmes. It is so encouraging to have the support of Citi Foundation and the public – that empower our helping hands to reach even further. We hope that our efforts can inspire others to give what they can and to join us in supporting those around us,” said Steve Loh, General Secretary & CEO, YMCA of Singapore. Commenting on Citi’s long history in Singapore since 1902, ASEAN Head and Citi Country Officer for Singapore, Amol Gupte said, “Citi once again pledges its unwavering commitment to serve the local community, and to respond quickly to relief work on the ground. We will continue to demonstrate Citi’s values through our philanthropic efforts and core business activities in Singapore to make a difference to those in need.”

Through Project Makan, some 5,800 children and youth-in-need from lower-income families were provided with meals every weekday since April. The initiative is a partnership between The Social Kitchen, YMCA of Singapore, and SHINE Children and Youth Services.

YMCA Wok the Talk engages hawkers and taxi/private hire drivers to prepare and deliver meals and grocery packs to migrant workers, seniors and persons with special needs. These beneficiaries have challenges affording and accessing food and necessities. To date, over 20,000 meals have been delivered.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, local transport service providers have been adversely affected, and hawkers have also reported a 30-80% drop in income. The income generated by WTT through the food orders and the delivery services has helped hawkers and taxi/private hire drivers considerably. “Since the Circuit Breaker, business has gone down. We are very grateful for Wok the Talk as it gives us the opportunity to help the community and serve them good food, while sustaining our business and rental so we don’t have to close our shops because of the Circuit Breaker,” said Mr Munawwar, Assistant Manager, Badriya Indian Muslim Food Stall. Taxi driver Ah Lek commented on the fall in both street hires and e-booking, “The streets are empty now, nobody comes out anymore...”. Despite working long hours, he often struggles to find passengers. His son also received a $600 pay-cut due to the pandemic, increasing the financial strain on his family. Being involved in the programme supplemented his income while it also allowed him to be engaged for a meaningful cause.