FAQ on Food Pantry
What are some examples and categories of items that The Food Pantry has offered in stores so far?
Basically the products can range from noodles to canned goods to biscuits and sauces or anything that we get through donations but yet have too short a shelf life for re-distribution.
How are the plans to sell fruits and vegetables going? What are some points for consideration in the planning?
As we are still in the early stages of trial for the Pantry, we will definitely be keen to also feature perishable products like fruits and vegetables. But firstly, we need to test the market and see how’s the response to the $1 food pantry concept.If people are not adverse to consuming food with very short shelf life or some defects, we will definitely bring in perishables as well once we have enough fridges set up.
Will there be plans to sell meat?
Same with Fruits and Vegetables, only if we have proper storage and fridges in order to ensure that the quality is not compromised.
Who are the people that are donating these items? What partner organisations are involved? Will you be looking into collaborating with supermarkets for donations to help reduce their food wastage?
It is important to note that re-distributing the food for FREE to the underprivileged remains our main and key priority. It is only when certain foods are not well accepted by the beneficiaries or if the shelf life should be extremely short and also rejected by charities, then we will consider putting the food at The Food Pantry to give it a last shot at having a chance to be consumed. It is better than letting it sit on the shelves, waiting to be disposed.Therefore, we do not actively seek for donors so that we have more food to sell but we continue to engage donors to ensure that we have more food for re-distribution to those in need. A lot of the food items found at the food pantry may be derived from corporate or school food drives where most items are in loose or single units of multiple brands. We will be delighted if Supermarkets and Large Food Companies can start engaging with us to find ways to reduce their food wastage instead of just tossing the foods. We have been very encouraged by the increased openness for companies to donate their excess foods but there is definitely more that we can do.
Who are the people buying these items? Some says that certain groups of people may "exploit" this initiative for cheap buys when they aren't from needy families. What does The Food Bank have to say about that?
As we just started this Monday, we are still gauging the type of customers that comes to the food pantry. It’s important to note that we are trying to work out another scheme for the needy families to use the food pantry as an emergency food aid since we are opened daily till 10pm whilst most NGOs may only be opened on weekdays during office hours. The food will obviously be given free to these needy personnel. In fact if we do it right, we are allowing them to “shop” in a dignified manner as if they are a paying customer and they can select what they want. But details of the scehme is still being worked out.The aim of the Food Pantry was really change the consumers’ mindset about food and how we shop and hopefully reduce food wastage by giving the items with shorter shelf life and opportunity to be sold. if there are indeed consumers who do not mind the shorter shelf life or slight defects, we also welcome them to buy up these items. Again, I would like to emphahsise that these goods are left over from what we cannot distribute to those in need.
When I got to the place yesterday, most of the items have been cleared out! What has been sold thus far?
We were quite surprised that many people from around the Geylang Area came knocking on our doors even as the renovations were being done. We did not expect the Pantry concept to be so popular. A range of products from Instant Noodles to Canned foods has been sold thus far.
What are some of the difficulties faced?
It’s still early days but one of the biggest difficulties that we face is explaining to people why we decided to start The Food Pantry and the concept behind it. It’s more of a marketing tool for us to raise awareness about reducing food wastage than it being a fund raiser. But we are happy to note that most people have been quite receptive towards the idea.No matter what difficulties and challenges we will face, we are going to tackle them head on as we know that we are trying to do something good here. Giving these foods a new lease of life before they end up in the incinerators.
How does The Food Pantry change the way consumers shop?
Usually items on the supermarket shelves are beautiful with longer shelf life and as consumers, we have the tendency to pick up the best with the longest shelf life regardless when we intend to consume or how fast we consume the prducts. At the Food Pantry we are actually adding some labels to conceal brands without compromising the product info to give all products a generic look. For example, all sardine will just be sardine without brands since they are all going to be sold at $1.00 and its just to drive the point across that whilst there may be some small quality difference between brands, when we are simply looking for a sardines, maybe any brand will do, especially if we are buying in larger volumes. It’s just to give all products and brands and equal opportunity to be tested by consumers at same prices. Secondly, it’s also to highlight that although this product has only 3weeks left, but you try it or intend to cook it within the next week or so, buying it and using it really is not an issue, the quality is similar to something with even longer shelf life. We are really hoping to change their shopping habits by educating them that if you intend to use the stuff tomorrow anyway, you don’t need something with 1 year shelf life, help to use up the products with shorter shelf life first before it ends up in the dumpsters.
We understand that proceeds will be used to cover the overheads. Will it be sufficient? If it is not, what are some other means The Food Pantry can rely on to cover operating costs?
The Food Pantry is an extension of the Food Bank Singapore and it is unlikely that the funds raised from the Pantry will be sufficient to cover our overheads. However, The Food Bank will still be actively raising funds through other means in order to ensure that all projects including The Food Pantry is sustainable in the long run.