Community kitchen founder urges better coordination among NGOs

The distribution of free food has led to an increase in waste. — Filepic

FOR the past 20 years, Deep Singh and his team of volunteers have been feeding vulnerable communities in Kuala Lumpur through Nanak Community Kitchen.

The 58-year-old retired Air Force officer who founded the soup kitchen in 2001, has been distributing wholesome vegetarian meals to the homeless and poor folk in Petaling Street, Jalan Sultan, Medan Pasar and the Kota Raya area.

However, since last year, apart from feeding the needy, he has been cleaning up after the feeding sessions are over.

Deep would stay on long after the food distribution at a location, to collect the food containers and water bottles discarded indiscriminately.

Deep picking up rubbish after distributing food in Kuala Lumpur.Deep picking up rubbish after distributing food in Kuala Lumpur.

He collects rubbish in areas where food is distributed by other individuals or groups.

“I have noticed that the number of people who rely on free food has increased through the years, with a significant jump since March last year when the first MCO (movement control order) was implemented.

“The recipients include taxi drivers, construction workers, cleaners and people who have no fixed income.

“They rely on donated food and use what little money they have for other purposes.

“The homeless have increased and are more visible now,” he added.

Deep says cooked food must suit the target group.Deep says cooked food must suit the target group.

Deep said his organisation was also getting calls for help from non-Malaysians working at construction sites as well as families in the city’s outskirts needing groceries.

“We get requests from all over Klang Valley, including Sungai Penchala, Balakong, Kajang and Rawang.

“The need has moved from downtown Kuala Lumpur,” he said.

Although there are people in real need, there is no proper system to ensure help is given fairly.

Discarded plastic containers and water bottles can be seen in the foreground after a feeding programme in the Chow Kit area.Discarded plastic containers and water bottles can be seen in the foreground after a feeding programme in the Chow Kit area.

Deep urged Good Samaritans to match the type of food provided with the intended recipients.

“When we started cleaning up several areas, we noticed that much of the food was not fully consumed.

“Some packets were left open, while others had food that was spoilt or already rotting,” he said.

Deep said other than senior citizens, foreigners from different countries had varied diets and this should be taken into consideration when giving out food.

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