Picking up the breakfast tab

Picking up the breakfast tab

At a drink stall in Yew Tee, customers buy a beverage, eggs or toast in advance for the needy.

It is yet another initiative inspired by the “suspended coffee” movement in Italy – in which patrons pay for a cup of their favourite brew to give to the poor.

The latest idea was put forward by Chua Chu Kang GRC MP Alex Yam, who is the grassroots adviser for Yew Tee. Called Food on the Wall, it was launched on Sunday at a Yi Jia Food Centre drink stall.

The stall owner, Mr Chia Choon Kee, 60, has put up a whiteboard where needy patrons can pick up sticky tabs, representing advance purchases.

They can request free food by taking a tab from any of the three categories and presenting it to the cashier at the stall.

“Its purpose is to encourage a greater sense of community and to allow for the simple act of sharing to become communal,” said Mr Yam. If the project succeeds, it will be replicated at other coffee shops, said the constituency’s director, Mr Erik Ong.

“We will monitor the sustainability of such an initiative and adjust and adapt it to better serve hawkers, donors and recipients,” added the 32-year-old.

Mr Chia, who has been working at the coffee shop for eight years, said he sees between three and five elderly men every day who are short of cash to buy food.

Speaking in Mandarin, he said: “Very rarely do they approach us for free handouts…They are too embarrassed to broach the subject. The sticker system makes it easier for them.”

Mr Chia runs the coffee shop and leases 11 units to other hawkers. He said he will encourage his tenants to take part in the scheme if it succeeds at his stall.

Source: The Straits Times