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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.