They called, others answered. A Packet of Rice is a movement started by 10 friends which rallies people to sponsor and distribute meal boxes to needy residents and senior citizens living in rental flats. Since it was set up in 2012, the team has reached out to more than 22,000 seniors. Its co-founder Vincent Goh, 36, a senior event manager, shares more.
What inspired you to start APOR?
Singapore’s ageing population has been increasing every year with many of them living alone or being childless. Although the meal distribution only occurs twice a month, we hope that the project will help ease some of their difficulties and provide some comfort.
This has also given an opportunity to the public to see how people live in one-room flats. We hope that it will inspire more people to realise that there are some fellow Singaporeans who fall through the cracks and inspire them to serve community.
Typically, what takes place during in each distribution?
Food items and lunch are pre-ordered at least a week before each distribution and delivered by our suppliers. We will then divide all the items into 3 groups at the meeting point and assign the volunteers to three different people in charge who will help to run the distribution. Food items are then distributed door to door. Volunteers are encouraged to interact with the seniors and to check for their needs. If the seniors need household items, we will source for sponsors and bring to them during the next visit. A debrief is conducted after the distribution.
Who are the seniors you work with?
We work closely with Sarah Seniors Activity Centre at Blk 105 Jalan Bukit Merah, where we get updated lists of seniors we can reach out to. These seniors are under the welfare scheme and most of them do not work. Due to limited resources, we choose to concentrate our outreach efforts on the more needy ones. Our distributions also enable us to help the Centre keep an eye on the seniors on Sundays, when the Centre is closed. We also work with the local Social Service Office at the same block to provide food items to some of their clients who are mostly young families.