Singapore's economy is taking a hit from the COVID-19 pandemic. Unemployment figures are not out yet, but in spite of the Job Support Scheme, there will be a lot of working people feeling the brunt of the slow down. The JSS grant for businesses that are not in aviation, tourism or food services is just 25 percent of wages of up to $4,600. It is going to be very tough for an employer whose business is shuttered, or drastically reduced, to keep idle workers on the payroll when 75 percent or more is still coming from the company. There are other schemes as well, but these will not amount to replacement income for those who become unemployed.
The hardest hit will be those families at the base of the Singapore economic pyramid. Many of these families depend on charity organizations that are already seeing a surge in demand. According to Food From the Heart, a food bank in Singapore, cash and food donations have dropped while they struggle to feed a growing number of beneficiaries. It is still a long way until May 4th and that end date might be extended.
It is not just a matter of having enough to eat. We also have to be concerned about Hidden Hunger. This is when people are getting calories in their diet, but not enough of the micronutrients so important for a strong immune system.
A Singapore social enterprise has been addressing the issue of Hidden Hunger by fortification of regular white rice — our biggest food staple. Foodness Asia supplies fortified rice in bulk to eldercare facilities, foreign worker dormitories, food banks and other at-risk communities.
Fortification of staples is mandatory in many countries, but not common in South East Asia. Hidden Hunger causes stunted growth, immune system deficiencies, frailty, and cognitive defects in infants among other things. It’s not just a poor country problem either. Processed food and the modern fast-food diet are often lacking essential micronutrients, and not everyone can afford to buy the produce many of us enjoy — even in Singapore.
Foodness Asia was founded in May of last year and is operating at a loss still with the support of its founders and volunteers, who are more committed to helping than profiting. They plan to grow the business enough to have positive cash flow by the end of the year, but getting the word out and addressing the crisis is their priority right now.
To help in these difficult times, they are now offering their fortified rice to the retail market online. The offer allows you to buy the fortified rice for your family and at the same time give fortified rice to one of the organizations below. Foodness Asia will consolidate orders and deliver the fortified rice to the charities. This way the charities can have more supply while everyone maintains social distancing.
You can access the Foodness Asia Buy & Give offers on Lazada.
The food banks also appreciate cash donations and you can find them at the links below: