SINGAPORE – Large heads of broccoli, bags of spinach and boxes of tangerines were among the groceries on offer at a makeshift market of sorts set up in the Costa Ris estate in Pasir Ris Central on Saturday.
Grassroots volunteers teamed up with community organisations to give out free food and sundries to residents there. Besides fresh produce, the residents also received dried goods and canned food.
The Grocery Runs initiative, which has been running since March 2022, is among several food drives started in the area to help residents alleviate the impact of the rising cost of living.
Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Desmond Tan, who oversees the area as an MP of Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, said: “There are people who need some help, whether in jobs or in some kind of cost-of-living management. So we want to be there for our residents.
“We want to make sure nobody gets left behind.”
Singaporeans have been affected by rising prices, with worldwide inflation hitting record levels in 2022 due to soaring energy prices, prompting the Government to roll out three packages that year totalling more than $3.5 billion to help people cope.
With core inflation here rising to 5.5 per cent year on year in January, the highest since November 2008, cost-of-living issues featured prominently last week as MPs debated the Government’s Budget statement.
Core inflation, which excludes the costs of private transport and accommodation, is said to reflect the daily expenses of Singapore households more accurately.
Madam Hong Ming Zhu, who is among the beneficiaries of the fortnightly Grocery Runs, said her family of four has had to spend less on groceries.
The 74-year-old added: “Fish and vegetables are very expensive now, so this helps.”
Her family is one of more than 480 households living in the four blocks of two- and three-room flats in the estate.
Ms Keena Tay, chairman of Costa Ris Residents’ Network, which works with Riverlife Community Services and other grassroots organisations on the initiative, said all residents in the four blocks are eligible for the free groceries.
The aim is not just to help lessen the cost-of living pressures, but also to get to know the residents better so that grassroots volunteers can help if they have other problems.
Mr Tan said that over time, the food distribution drive has become like a kampung activity because residents turn up early for drinks and snacks and sometimes even entertainment.
On Saturday, they were serenaded by Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, who was on a ministerial visit to the division.