Will you buy a blemished potato, a discoloured capsicum or an overripe pear?
In 2017, when Daniel Tay and other freegans – people who reject consumerism with the aim to reduce wastage – approached vegetable sellers at Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre for unwanted produce, they were astonished by what they found.
Crates of cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, bananas and other unsellable vegetables and fruits were cast aside for disposal. Others were discarded because they were too big or small to fit the packaging!
“Even though the veggies are imperfect, they are still delicious,” says Daniel, dismayed at the amount of wastage he saw.
It spurred him into action. He co-founded SG Food Rescue with the goal to reduce food waste in Singapore. The group counts more than 350 active volunteers, or “food rescuers” among its ranks and its Facebook group has nearly 13,000 members.
From Unwanted to Needed
With more food than the rescuers can consume, Daniel sought out charity organisations with the capacity to use and distribute the food they collect each week at Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre, Little India and other sources.
“We found a good match in Krishna Kitchen, a community soup kitchen that provides up to 1,000 free vegetarian meals to the needy each day,” he shares. SG Food Rescue sends about 500kg of food to Krishna Kitchen, which makes up 30% of what the charity receives each week.
Beyond Social Services is another recipient. Their volunteers sort the vegetables, trim off inedible bits and distribute the rest to low income families staying in rental flats. Free Food for All, a charity that distributes 500 free meals daily to the needy, also receives vegetables and fruits from the group’s “Veggie Rescues”.
Twice a week, SG Food Rescue stocks up community fridges located at void decks with rescued vegetables and fruits. On one occasion, the volunteers gave a batch of mouldy grapes to a community garden to use as fertilisers. A few weeks later, they were delighted to find fresh harvest from the garden filling up the community fridge nearby!