NGOs navigate challenges in distributing food during lockdown

ORGANISATIONS involved in distributing food to the needy are making adjustments in view of the lockdown that starts today.

Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) announced that food distribution would continue at eight locations identified in the city centre.

In April, DBKL said it would stop direct distribution of food to the homeless during Ramadan and instead, organisations could only do so at three venues, namely Pusat Transit Gelandangan (Jalan Pahang), Pusat Khidmat Gelandangan (Medan Tuanku) and Pusat Pembelajaran Komuniti (Jalan Chow Kit).

Since then, five other locations have been added – Pertubuhan Pembangunan Kebajikan dan Persekitaran Positif Malaysia (Seed) along Jalan Tiong Nam; Pit Stop Community Cafe (Jalan Tun HS Lee); Give & Share (78-4-6, Faber Heights); Yayasan Amal Malaysia WP (Jalan Raja Laut) and Anjung Singgah (Jalan Hang Lekiu).

In a statement, DBKL said the three locations stipulated earlier would operate as usual throughout the lockdown from noon to 1pm and 5.30pm to 6.30pm.

“All those on duty are required to wear mask, face shields, gloves and aprons.

“DBKL enforcement officers will also help enforce standard operating procedure at these venues, ” it said.

Pertiwi Soup Kitchen founder Datuk Munirah Abdul Hamid said it had been in contact with DBKL to make sure the needy could still get their meals.

“We will continue to do what we have been doing since Ramadan, including coordinating with other NGOs, but we will be stepping up on our SOP, such as using double face masks, shields and other personal protective equipment.

“For places like Medan Tuanku and Pusat Pembelajaran Komuniti Chow Kit where food is served takeaway style, enforcement officers will be present to ensure safety measures like physical distancing are adhered to at all times, ” she said.

The local authority had said that the decision to limit food distribution to eight areas was made to prevent food wastage, maintain cleanliness and adhere to the National Security Council’s Covid-19 SOP.

In Selangor, Kembara Kitchen co-founder William Cheah said they might face problems in getting authorisation to deliver food to those in need.

“We are still figuring out how to get the travel permits. Right now, we have authorisation from the police but we have been told to get permission from the district disaster control operation centre.

“The requirement to obtain permission from separate district officers if one were to send food from Klang to Ampang makes our work challenging, ” he added.

He also said that having a single document to allow for delivering aid to the needy would make things easier.

“We are trying to figure out how to get this done properly without having to get so many authorisation letters.

“With the lockdown, this is a big question mark for many of us doing humanitarian work, ” said Cheah.

Meanwhile, a DBKL spokesperson said there was no decision yet on setting up more temporary shelters for the homeless during the lockdown.

Three temporary shelters are currently operating in Sentul Perdana, Setiawangsa and Jinjang Utara.

A joint DBKL operation on May 23 had rescued 133 homeless people around the city centre, including Masjid Jamek, Dataran Merdeka and Brickfields.

About 100 of the city’s homeless have also been vaccinated under a pilot project by the Federal Territories Ministry.

The vaccination programme, conducted with the Health Ministry, aims to improve the SOP for a mobile vaccination programme under the Wilayah Cakna 5.0 Initiative.

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