Donations to relief fund top HK$1m
Readers of the South China Morning Post have donated more than HK$1 million to a relief fund that is supporting the city's two major food banks since the launch of the campaign a month ago.
As of yesterday, the Post's Heart of Hong Kong Relief Fund had raised HK$1,049,785.30, which will enable the charities to supply more fresh food to families on low incomes. It would also help them deal with rising demand for food assistance amid the current global economic uncertainties, the campaign's beneficiaries said. One person donated HK$300,000.
Lau Kim-wun, acting district co-ordinator of the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals, said: 'Those who need our service are the most underprivileged segment of our society; they are the most sensitive to the economic cycle. They suffer when inflation comes, and they also suffer once the economy turns around and companies start lay-offs.'
Connie Ng Man-yin, service manager of the People's Food Bank at St James' Settlement, expects demand for food assistance to rise by around 10 per cent by the end of the year.
'We don't know which direction the economy is heading. But either way, the poor suffer,' Ng said. A recent report on global wealth found that one in six families with children in Hong Kong often suffer hunger. Such children are in a state of high food insecurity, it said. The plight of these families prompted Heart of Hong Kong to launch the fund-raising campaign a month ago.
Donations will be made equally to the beneficiaries - the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals' Food for All - Short-term Food Assistance Service, and the People's Food Bank of St James' Settlement. 'With the money donated by the Post's readers, we can buy more fresh food, such as vegetables and meat, for people to pick up at the food bank,' Ng said. The St James food bank spends nearly HK$8,000 a week buying fresh vegetables and meat to give away.
The Post's campaign broadens the food banks' network of contacts among companies and individuals.
'A number of companies and individuals have contacted us directly about providing help,' Ng said.
'Every bit of help is very important to us. As for volunteers, we need them to be able to come in on a regular basis.'
Many people served as volunteers at the food bank, Lau said. 'They [the poor] feel the warmth of society. And more vendors are coming to us, telling us they want to join our scheme to provide fresh food to the poor,' Lau said.
Cliff Buddle, acting editor-in-chief of the South China Morning Post, said: 'We are delighted that so much money has been raised.
'Our readers have been very generous in supporting this important cause. They were obviously touched by the plight of these families struggling to feed their children. The money will help. However, the problem will not go away.'
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 16,500 people get rice, noodles, biscuits and powdered milk, as well as coupons for fresh meat, vegetables, fruit 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.