As the pandemic stretches on indefinitely, many underprivileged communities continue to be crippled by hunger-related issues. Malnutrition, starvation and other health problems are only some of the woes faced by members of the B40 category in these troubled times.
At the same time, local food businesses are suffering. Battered by economic pressure, many of them are forced to reduce salaries, cut jobs, or worst of all, shutter for good. This loss of livelihoods creates negative economic effects, which ripple through society.
Malaysian chef Zoee Wong found herself disheartened by all this. She wondered, what if there was a way to address both these problems at the same time?
That idea led her to start the Food Relief Project (FRP), an initiative that aims to feed the hungry with wholesome meals by channelling donated funds to local F&B businesses.
“I am a chef. I believe in feeding people, and feeding people well. Part of the responsibility of being a good chef is cultivating an awareness of time and place. Food businesses do not exist in vacuums; we exist in communities. And right now, our communities are really struggling. People are going hungry,” Wong asserts.
“Restaurant workers have the skills and knowledge to provide affordable, high-quality meals. The snag, however, is that our industry continues to experience huge economic losses. That is where FRP comes in.”
Wong’s initiative is supported by the Food Aid Foundation and is modelled after HelpKitchen, a similar project she had cooked for when she was based in San Francisco.
Through FRP, participating businesses cook nutritious meals at the cost of RM11 per meal, funded through donations. The Food Aid Foundation then distributes these foods fairly to food-insecure communities, most of whom are in the B40 category.