Free hawker food for the poor

Ong (middle) checking the food coupons placed beside a donation box for the public to make their contributions to the programme at the Batu Lanchang food complex in Penang.

IN an effort to help the needy, 37 hawkers and vendors at the Batu Lanchang food complex in Penang are joining a ‘Com Meals’ programme to provide free meals or subsidised meals.

Batu Lanchang assemblyman Ong Ah Teong said the programme, also known as the ‘Community Meal’ programme, would be carried out in two stages.

“The first programme will be carried out for 10 days until Jan 6 next year while the other one will go on as long as public funds come in.

“For the 10-day programme, each food stall operator will provide three free meals a day during the 10 days.

“Since there are 37 food stalls participating in the 10-day programme, there will be some 111 plates of free food for the needy daily.

“For a period of 10 days there will be a total of 1,110 food plates given to the poor through this programme.

“Anyone who is poor, low-income or senior citizens can take the free food, ” he said when contacted on Monday. Ong said for the second part of the programme, his service centre would issue an allocation of RM300 to four coffeeshops and RM100 to each food stall.

“Each coffeeshop will then provide coupons worth RM10, in 50sen to RM1 denominations, each day for a month.

“These coupons are placed in front of these four coffeeshops and can be used by the poor to buy food at any stall.

“The idea is that people who come to the Batu Lanchang food complex to eat, can drop donations through a fund box placed at the four coffeeshops here.

“The money from the public donation will then be used to provide food coupons to the stalls involved.

“So for example, if a person is buying a plate of RM4 noodles using an RM1 coupon, they will only pay the balance, ” he explained.

He said the coupons, which would be placed at the four selected coffeeshops would continue to be issued as long as public funds keep coming in.

“The goal of this programme is to collect through donations from the public.

“This is because large contributions every month would increase the value of the coupons.

“It may be raised to RM2 or RM3 in future to help more people.

“Personally, I really hope this programme succeeds, so that we can provide one free meal to the poor every day.

“So far, the idea and initiatives are welcomed by traders at the complex and they are ready to be involved.

“If this programme is successful, I intend to implement a similar programme at the Jelutong public market and the Jalan Perak temporary hawker site to help more people, ” he added.

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