PETALING JAYA: The problem of poor students having to starve or eat less will end soon when the national food bank initiative targeting to help some 20,000 is rolled out in 20 public universities by the end of the year.
Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said the effort was gathering momentum with strong support from different parties.
“So far, we have 430 supermarkets and hypermarkets nationwide that have stated their commitment to assist the Food Bank Malaysia programme by supplying surplus raw ingredients daily.
‘’The ministry will ensure the logistics of the programme is taken care of, whereas soup kitchens such as Food Aid Foundation and Kechara will assist us by providing guidance to run the food bank.
‘’We also have other strategic partners which include hotel associations and volunteers from different states.
‘’With such a conducive environment, we are optimistic about the initiative reaching out to all public universities in the country by the end of the year and helping students from poor families,’’ he said after opening Food Bank Siswa at Universiti Malaya (UM) yesterday.
Also present was Port Dickson MP and PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who is patron of the university alumni.
The food bank initiative for students is an extension of the ministry’s Food Bank Malaysia programme meant for the B40 group.
The campus’ initiative began at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia on Feb 26 and has since been introduced in Universiti Putra Malaysia and Universiti Teknologi Mara.
A total of 500 students from UM began receiving their food aid.
Saifuddin said the programme was managed by the university’s student associations who helped identify eligible recipients as well as prepare and distribute the food.
‘’At UM, the food bank offers a pantry consisting of dried food and groceries that are given to deserving students.
‘’It also has a central kitchen, which, with the help of our strategic partners, prepares and distributes meals to students,’’ he added.
Saifuddin noted that a Bill to regulate the food bank initiative would be tabled by the end of the year.
The new law, tentatively known as the Good Samaritan Law, will protect not only aid recipients but also contributors.
‘’We are taking in experience from nations that have successfully implemented the initiative but adding in local input in drafting the law,’’ he added.