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Radio presenter Sadie Kaye, who launched a community baking project to help food waste charity Breadline during the pandemic. Photo: SCMP / Winson Wong

An RTHK presenter discovered a passion for baking during the pandemic, now she’s making bread for Hong Kong’s homeless

Mental Ideas podcaster Sadie Kaye turned a new-found passion for baking into a scheme supplying bread and muffins for Hong Kong homeless charity Breadline


People have been embracing new activities during social distancing. Some have learned a language, others a musical instrument. For radio presenter and writer Sadie Kaye, baking is her new passion.

“With summer pretty much cancelled, I spent the past few months in my kitchen,” says the presenter of Mental Ideas, a podcast on RTHK Radio 3 that has recently been shortlisted by the Association for International Broadcasting for best factual podcast. “I’m no domestic goddess – my first loaf came out of the oven on fire.”

Kaye’s motivation to bake came after she read about how the pandemic is making life tougher for Hong Kong’s homeless, and for the food banks struggling with disruptions to supply chains and drops in volunteers and donations.
With the city’s unemployment rate at a nine-year high, many of those who have lost their jobs have ended up on the streets. “It’s taken a pandemic to realise the scale of homelessness and poverty in the city,” Kaye says.
Some of the recipients of Kaye’s baking initiative. Photo: Breadline
According to the latest Poverty Situation Report released by the government in December, the poverty rate rose slightly from 20.1 per cent in 2017 to 20.4 per cent in 2018, placing one in five Hongkongers below the poverty line. Political unrest combined with the fallout from Covid-19 means the picture for this year is even more bleak.

Determined to do something, Kaye initiated a community baking project, Home Kong Kitchen, to help Breadline, a food-waste charity that supports the homeless and other vulnerable groups living in shelters.

Breadline relies on food-waste donations from cafes and restaurants but, says Kaye, with most suppliers operating at reduced hours, the charity has been unable to meet demand.

To boost food supplies, the Sai Kung resident recruited friends, family and neighbours.

“Once a week they drop off their goodies – home-made breads, muffins – to my flat and I deliver them to charities and shelters,” she says.

People can also donate by adding an extra load to their weekly shop.

“We’ve delivered to Kenyan migrant refugees living in shelters – after learning bread is part of their essential diet – and supplied a refugee centre for abused Filipino domestic helpers awaiting trial,” Kaye says. “Even with social distancing restrictions being relaxed, the city’s huge wealth divide won’t magically go away, so we won’t be winding down our little Home Kong bakery operation.”

To join the Home Kong Kitchen community, email Sadie Kaye.

Donations to the programme. Photo: Breadline