SINGAPORE: The Food Bank has come under scrutiny after a price increase left some residents disheartened, highlighting the challenges faced by the organization in balancing affordability and sustainability.
Facebook user, Ang Soon Li, expressed his disappointment on social media.
He noted that the prices at The Food Bank had risen from $2 for an average of three items in 2021 to $3.50 in 2022.
“We used to go there to get food items once in a while at just $2 for an average of three items… it helped us quite a lot with our food cost,” Ang Soon Li wrote in a Facebook post to Complaint Singapore in September.
“The prices increased in 2022 to $3.50 but the items were at least still somewhat worth it,” he said.
However, in 2023, Ang Soon Li found the items offered in The Food Bank’s vending machines to be overpriced.
“Now in 2023 when I recently past by, there just a bunch of one item slots that cost $3.50 but the value of the item simply ain’t worth it. Like the oil which a similar oil can be gotten at NTUC for $1.80.”
He compared the cost of vegetable oil provided by the charity to that of NTUC FairPrice, raising concerns about the value for money.
“The food pantry which is supposed to help provide near-expiry food to the less well-off and those who want to help reduce food waste is now just a glorified choose-your-item food ration for beneficiaries only,” he added.
Challenges emerge as The Food Bank adapts to rising demand and price adjustments
Addressing the concern, a spokesperson from The Food Bank told 8world, that the vending machines are “intended for cardholders registered with them via social workers.”
These cardholders are typically people in need, and the pricing of food items depends on their requirements and the support they receive.
Each card receives a monthly top-up equivalent to $50 in points, which used to be sufficient for 25 redemptions at the vending machines.
However, the program’s popularity has led to increased demand, with approximately 2,000 cards distributed.
As a result, The Food Bank has faced a challenge in meeting this demand.
“Every time our volunteers restock the vending machines, food items are quickly redeemed.
“The increase in demand requires more funding and more food donations,” the spokesperson explained.
Food donations, which are essential for the organization’s operations, have declined by over 50% from 1.6 million kilograms in 2020.
Therefore, to keep the program running, The Food Bank increased the points required for item redemption from $2 to $3.50.
It’s worth noting that the $3.50 redemptions are not limited to individual items, as products closer to their expiration dates are bundled together with each purchase.
The Food Bank emphasized their commitment to finding a balance between affordability and sustainability, recognizing that individuals in need may face difficulties with the increased price.
They encourage those in need to register for the program via social workers to receive targeted support more effectively, reaffirming their goal to assist those who are most in need.
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