Kind vendors join fight against family hunger

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 September, 2011, 12:00am

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Meat merchant Man Chiu-ming believes helping the underprivileged can take many forms.

He has chosen to take part in a voucher scheme that sells fresh food to beneficiaries of a service run by the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals.

Man has been selling meat in Tai Kok Tsui for more than 30 years. A significant portion of his business comes from long-time customers who have moved to other districts but return because they trust him and the meat he sells.

'I'm not a rich man; I have no money to donate to charity. But I help through my work so I joined the scheme,' he said.

Man knows that many food assistance recipients are embarrassed to show their meat coupons. Therefore, he assures them they are also bringing him business, like the rest of the customers.

'I can tell some of them are uncomfortable. They hesitate when they are taking the coupon out of their wallet, and when they pass the coupon to us, they are uncertain whether they should do so. They don't need to feel bad. They are helping me by shopping at my store,' Man said.

He also knows some are too embarrassed to get the meat themselves and they ask their friends to do it.

The charity group provides its 'Food For All' assistance to lowincome families in West Kowloon. It distributes basic packs to families who can cook at home; and more simple ones to street sleepers and those who cannot cook at home.

A basic pack, which the recipients take home once a week, contains rice, eggs, noodles, an energy drink and canned food. It also has vegetable and meat coupons. The size of a pack depends on the family. Those with babies and young children receive milk formula in their packs.

Each coupon is worth HK$10. A family of four will receive four meat coupons and four vegetable coupons. Beneficiaries of the Tung Wah food bank service can take the coupons to the charity's partner vendors to receive the vegetables and meat they want.

A recent report on global wealth found that, in Hong Kong, one in six families with children often suffers from hunger.

In light of the situation these families face, the South China Morning Post has launched a campaign to raise funds for Food for All and the People's Food Bank run by St James' Settlement. The donations received will be equally distributed to the two beneficiaries. Also driven by the belief that helping others can come in many forms, Sam Lau, a vendor selling vegetables at Tai Kok Tsui Municipal Services Building, joined Tung Wah's programme.

'I lost all my savings more than 10 years ago doing business in Dongguan ,' Lau said.

'I know there are good times and bad times. When we are doing fine, we help those less fortunate.

'If I don't join this scheme, those customers may not come to me, but by joining the scheme, I have more business.' The charity visits the vendors occasionally to collect the coupons and pay the money.

'The vendors are very kind indeed. It takes them extra time to do business with us and they don't receive cash immediately,' said Lau Kim-wun, Tung Wah's acting district co-ordinator.

Identifying the right vendors is not easy. 'They must be honest and reliable, and treat the beneficiaries well,' Lau said. The scheme has 13 vendors.

Beneficiaries

St James' Settlement's People's Food Bank

Established in 2003, the service provides food to people in need on a short-term basis, serving rice, noodles, canned food, frozen meat, vegetables, hot meals and baby milk formula to around 1,500 people a day.

Tung Wah Group of Hospitals' Food for All assistance service

Food for All has been providing short-term help to the needy since 2009. Some 165,000 people get rice, noodles, biscuits and powdered milk, as well as coupons for fresh meat, vegetables, fruits and cooked meals. Customised menus are also available.

How you can help these programmes

Make a donation by:

Direct transfer to HSBC account 502-676588-001 for SCMP Charities Ltd.

Cheque payable to 'SCMP Charities Ltd' and mail to: SCMP Charities Ltd, Morning Post Centre, 22 Dai Fat Street, Tai Po Industrial Estate, New Territories.

Donations of HK$100 or more are tax-deductible. For a tax receipt, please send us the original bank receipt with your name, address and phone number to the address above. Please call 2680 8159 with any inquiries.