A couple’s mission to feed the masses with reclaimed feasts

A couple’s mission to feed the masses with reclaimed feasts

Derek Ong is one of the co-founders of Food Rescue Sengkang. Since 2019, Derek and his wife, Janet, have been dedicated to rescuing food, vegetables, and fruits “destined for the bins” to feed the needy.

Derek Ong Food
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Singapore is one of the wealthiest nations in Asia – yet food insecurity persists. This discrepancy makes no sense to locals Derek Ong and Janet Lee. Food isn’t scarce here. On the contrary, tonnes of healthy produce are thrown out to make way for new stock. “When we looked at all this food that is dumped into bins, we discovered that they are actually very fit for human consumption,” Ong says. “Seeing people suffering from starvation while so much food was being wasted made us angry.”

Roused to action, the couple founded Food Rescue Sengkang to reduce food waste and curb hunger. Since 2019, they’ve been working with volunteers to salvage unsold produce from wholesalers, grocery stores, and hypermarkets for those who can’t afford it. The food is then sorted and brought to public spaces, where anyone can collect what they need. “I estimate that every week I rescue between eight to 10 tonnes of fresh fruit and veggies,” Ong says. Local bakeries have joined in, offering bread and baked goods to the reclaimed feast.

While currently based in Sengkang, the second most populous region in Singapore, the couple are in the process of expanding their efforts. “In order to reach more people, we have started placing fridges around the community because not everyone is able to travel to where we give out food,” Ong says. With the onset of COVID-19, the need for sustenance has increased. But this has only fuelled the couple’s determination to provide. “We’ve fed thousands of people,” Ong says, “and we won’t stop until we are physically unable to.” There’s plenty of food to go around – all that’s required is the willingness to serve.

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