Take What You Need, Give Your Excesses

Singapore is no stranger to food insecurity, especially for vulnerable households. In fact, 1 in 10 Singaporeans experience food insecurity (Food Bank, 2020). Beyond the basic level of availability, food insecurity also includes the lack of access to sufficient nutritious food. With numerous organizations supporting food donations, it might seem perplexing as to why this is still a problem in our society
Food donations are often a template style gift pack with a mix of ready to eat snacks such as biscuits, and cooking ingredients such as rice. However, every household is unique, ranging from a shared single rental flat to bigger households with many young children. Here’s where Smiles Salam comes in – providing a humanized approach to getting to know the beneficiaries, customizing aid and creating a stronger community that supports one another in doing so.
Smiles Salam first identified the opportunity to provide personalized food aid during a household visit that revealed an elderly that had packs of rice in the corner of her home. The only issue was that she did not cook, did not have people to share them with, but also did not want to seem ungrateful towards goodwill donations. She was not alone.

The first pop-up grocery was set up in the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic and brought accessible groceries right to their void decks. Residents are encouraged to take only what they need, and also support the community by donating excess food that they do not need. Each pop-up grocery provides the typical necessities such as rice, biscuits, and oil, whilst going a step further to provide healthier options such as fresh fruits & vegetables.

As a community supported initiative, food products are donated by sponsors, donors, and the residents. Residents will be able to take a fixed number of items, depending on the amount of donations received for the month. We rely fully on the donations from individuals and corporations such as yourself.
Since the first initiation in 2020, the movement has caught on and spread to several other neighbourhoods including Bukit Batok and Yishun. Feeling inspired? Reach out to us and we’ll guide and support you in supporting one in your very own neighbourhood!
Bukit Batok


Heartland Whispers :

Mdm S, 93 years old who was one of our Bedok Pop-Up Grocery’s beneficiaries had always visited the pop-up along with her daughter Mdm G, 74 years old who was the sole caregiver of Mdm S. There was once when Mdm G had a fall on her hip and had reached out to Smiles Salam for delivery as she was unable to travel to the pop-up for the much needed groceries.

Through the first month of delivery, Azlina managed to refer Mdm S and Mdm G’s case to Trans Family Services that was situated near to their home. Through the social worker, we realised that Mdm S did not manage to have the Community Care Team for the extended care at home due to financial difficulty after she was discharged from Changi General Hospital. Volunteer
Esther managed to connect with the Care Coordinator from CGH and persuaded Mdm S and Mdm G to take up the continuous care from the Community Care Team.

At the start, volunteer Chan Chen who lived nearby, would deliver meals to both of them when Chan Chen’s schedule allowed as Mdm G was unable to get her own meals from the nearest hawkers centre due to her condition. As Mdm G’s condition improved, the social worker at Trans Family Services directed Mdm G to collect meals from their nearest partners.

Through the monthly delivery of groceries by volunteers Ronnie, Chan Chen & Esther, friendship was forged between the volunteers as well as Mdm S and Mdm G. We are no longer just a provider and beneficiaries relationship but a genuine friendship who care for each other through the conversation we had during each visit.

While Mdm S and G may have been living in difficult circumstances, they were positive in their outlook about life. Mdm S will always be smiling as she shared that she looked forward to the relaxation of the safety measures so that she will be able to visit her church in person. We are heartened to see the health of Mdm S getting better. Mdm G was able to walk without assistance and can focus on taking care of Mdm S. Though Mdm S had passed away in February 2022, her resilience and cheery spirit will always remain in our memories.

How It Works

Know The People

We don’t just select vulnerable districts. The team takes a very hands on approach to get to know the residents and their individual stories before selecting a neighbourhood to support. Come join us to find out more!

Personalizing Aid

We understand that some people will need more help than others and we’re here to do just that. Each neighbourhood has a list of residents that have mobility issues or conflicting work schedules that prevent them from attending the pop-up events. Volunteers would pre-pack and deliver the donation pack to their home. And yes, these packs are based on the requests of the beneficiaries. We do our best to provide what they need.

Gather Support

100% of donated items are from the community. Each week, the team will collect rescued vegetables & fruits and coordinate support from other organizations including temples and mosques (yes, we are a multicultural team, and most importantly, one Singapore!). All other products are donated by donors such as yourself. Special thank you to food suppliers for providing us with special prices for the community.

Milk & Diaper

Milk and Diaper Fund

Through our outreach and interactions with our beneficiaries, we encountered families with young children and elderly in need of diapers and milk formula. These are basic essentials, however it can be costly for low-income families with many young children and those who fall through the cracks in receiving financial assistance due to their family circumstances. 

These families are struggling financially and had to make difficult decisions to save on other essentials to provide for their children/ elderly. Raising children is hard enough, but with the added pressure of making ends meet and supporting themselves financially, it gets harder to take care of these basic needs.

We believe that the nutritional needs of a child are important to support their growth and development and should not be compromised. Thus, Milk & Diaper Fund was set-up in August 2020 to provide interim assistance of diapers and milk formulas to these families, hoping to alleviate hardships they faced as they get back on their feet. 

Smiles Salam works closely with other Social Service Agencies (SSA), Family Service Centres (FSCs) to ensure that the families are helped holistically. We hope to serve as one of the support systems for the families through the monthly delivery of essentials that allow us to check-in on the families and journey with them as they work towards breaking the poverty cycle and the challenges that come along with it.

Heartland Whispers

In February 2021, mother of two young children, Madam Fazilah reached out to Smiles Salam as the family was struggling financially whilst staying in a 1-room rental flat. 

Husband is the sole breadwinner and she has been a stay-at-home mum since 2017 after she gave birth to her first daughter who has autism. There was a financial strain on the family as they were in between approval for ComCare financial assistance and waiting for their new BTO flat. 

During the 6 months journey with Madam Fazilah, we provided her supply of diapers & milk powders as well as groceries to ease their financial burden. She has since moved to her new BTO flat. We visited Madam Fazilah and were happy to see the family adjusting well in their new home and husband’s new job.

Being inspired with the kindness she received, Madam Fazilah had pay-it-forward by donating her children’s pre-loved clothes to others in need.

Madam Fazilah’s sharing about how the assistance helped her.

How Can You Help?

Know Anyone Who Needs Help

Be a befriender and provide a listening ear to these families. You may link them up with the nearest Social Service Agencies (SSAs) or Family Service Centres (FSCs) for assistance. Our Milk & Diaper Assistance are accepted mainly on referral basis from SSAs/ FSCs.

Be A Donor / Sponsor

It takes $150 - $200 to support one child per month. Any amount you donate will be funding the cost of diapers, milk and other baby essentials. You can choose to adopt a family by paying for their baby's milk and diapers. You may also visit the family as a befriender.

Be A Volunteer Driver

Put your car to good use by volunteering your time and help with delivering diapers and milk to the families.

Community Fridge

Reducing food waste through rescued vegetables and fruits

According to the National Environment Agency (NEA), the total amount of food waste generated in Singapore in 2021 amounted to a whopping 817,000 tonnes!

Intrigued with food rescue, our founders connected with various food rescue groups to learn about the work involved and were blessed with vegetables and fruits for our first Pop-Up Grocery on 30 August 2020. Seeing the need to have healthier options for the Pop-Up Grocery, our founders started rescuing vegetables from their neighbourhood wet market and stored as much as they could in their fridge at home. Most of the time, the surplus of vegetables is spread out at their corridor! 

With more pop-up locations to support, we collected more rescued vegetables from Lions Club Vegetables Charity Distribution at Bedok every Saturday. A great workout for our founders and volunteers as they pushed the heavy trolleys filled with vegetables. Yes! We needed more storage space for more vegetables! That is how we started the Community Fridge at 101 Bedok North. With the fridge donated by Lions Club, we gathered support from the resident volunteers to help with sorting, cleaning and distribution. Truly it takes the whole village and kampung spirit to serve better.

Do Your Part, Get Involved

Reduced Food Wastage to Increase our Food Security

Food wastage is an obstacle to food security. A key step to increasing food security is reducing food wastage. So, let’s take the first step towards reducing food wastage by buying local produce which have a longer shelf life, finding creative ways to utilise ingredients and leftovers, storing food properly, composting food, donating unused food to charities, and buying ugly food which would otherwise be discarded.

Blemished/ unsellable vegetables/ fruits

Curious and want to learn more about rescued vegetables and fruits? Lend a helping hand by joining our team on Saturdays as we sweat it out carrying baskets and cartons of vegetables from the collection point at Bedok to the Community Fridge.

Support Us

We don’t own a vehicle and found that renting as and when needed is more cost efficient at this point of time. Each month, our founders spent approximately $360 on transport when there is no volunteer driver to help with transporting the rescued vegetables and fruits. Be a donor to cover our transportation cost or be a volunteer driver to support in doing good!


Special Projects

Throughout the year, we will be running various initiatives such as Gift-A-Smile, Children Games Day, Food Drives, outings and programmes in collaboration with our community partners.