The word ‘groceries’ may be a bit of a sore subject now especially after the supermarket frenzy last weekend which saw essential items (such as rice, instant noodles) fly off the shelves at an alarming rate. While some supermarkets are undergoing a major restock of their supplies, a community market place in Mountbatten continues to remain well-stocked with provisions even when they are cost-free.
The Community Shop @ Mountbatten is located at Block 13 Old Airport Road and is an initiative launched by charity organisation Food from the Heart, in partnership with OCBC Bank. The idea was to give needy households who live in the vicinity an alternative to obtain their preferred food items instead of the standard donation package option which may sometimes include items that they do not need. Dubbed the first-of-its-kind in Singapore, the store aims to help minimise the stockpile of unwanted food items while also reducing food wastage in the long run.
Who does it benefit?
Unlike your ordinary supermarkets, the Community Shop @ Mountbatten is an initiative that seeks to help about 5,000 needy families islandwide which includes about 500 households who are living in the Mountbatten, MacPherson and Marine Parade areas.
The shop is open three times a week (Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday) from 9.30am to 12.30pm for eligible families and beneficiaries to visit and ‘buy’ their selections using a beneficiary card that is scanned by volunteers at the counters. Each household is allowed to select up to 12 items a month from the store, which can be split across a number of visits to better facilitate the family or beneficiaries’ requirements.
In addition to helping the staff to keep track of the items redeemed, the beneficiary card will also give charity staff an opportunity to analyse each household’s food consumption so as to better replenish food items that are in high-demand and avoid excess in food donations for a less popular item.
Where do the food items come from?
Most of the food items found within the shop have all been donated by good samaritans which include retailers and ordinary Singaporeans.
In addition to their frequent donors, the shop greatly advocates passers-by to join in as well with a sign outside their shop that tells interested donors what kind of food items are needed. This added step helps Food from the Heart to prevent food wastage and ensure that the donated items are appropriate for the shop.
Once received, the food items undergo strict quality checks that include basic food safety procedures as well as the checking for expiration dates so as to avoid stocking food which are not safe for consumption on the shelves.
What kind of items do they stock?
Currently, the shop is stocked with staples such as canned food, bread spreads, biscuits, oil, condiments, rice, vermicelli, instant drinks (coffee, tea), oats and instant noodles.
Why was the Community Shop set up?
Most donated food packs for needy families and beneficiaries are not customisable which often results in several food items going unused or unconsumed due to the varying dietary preferences and restrictions of the recipients. The Community Shop helps to resolve these problems by giving families and beneficiaries the ability to select what’s more suitable for them when they need it. The act itself also helps to empower those in need with a sense of dignity when given the option to choose their desired items at the shop.
How can I help?
On top of their community shop initiative, Food from the Heart also organises monthly food distributions which means that they require new, incoming food donations every month.
But before you go rummaging through your kitchen for food items to donate, do take note that your food has to meet the following requirements:
🙋 Has to be a non-perishable item
🙋 Has an expiry date of 3 months and beyond
🙋 Un-opened and in good condition
🙋 Has to be food items that the beneficiaries need
With that said, here’s what the Community Shop seeks in food donations:
👋 Rice in 2.5kg packs
👋 Cooking Oil (500ml and 1L)
👋 Instant noodles / vermicelli
👋 Canned food
👋 Coffee, Tea, Milo
Alternatively, you could also make a cash donation where proceeds will go towards operations and support for the beneficiaries.
Where can I drop off my food donations?
You may drop off your food items at the following addresses:
🏢 Community Shop @ Mountbatten
Blk 13 Old Airport Road #01-57 Singapore 390013
Operating hours: Daily, 24-hour drop-off
🏢 Food from the Heart HQ
130 Joo Seng Road #03-01 Singapore 368357
Operating hours: Monday to Friday, from 9am to 6pm
You could also choose to shop and donate online where the items purchased will be delivered straight to Food from the Heart.
Credit for featured photos in the banner: Food from the Heart