A few weeks ago, over the National Day weekend, we saw a Facebook post with an East Coast plan.
Passers-by were treated to an interesting sight: A little pop-up stall opposite Blk 41 at Bedok South Road filled with supplies available to anyone who needed food – for free, no questions asked.
The catch? That’s it. There was none.
Curious, The Pride reached out to Germaine and Janice, the two women who came up with the idea, to find out more about why they started this initiative that they call Pop Up Pantry (PuP).
Germaine tells The Pride: “Many people are affected by the effects of Covid-19 but many do not fall under categories which would qualify them for help or subsidies provided by existing programmes. I guess we just wanted to do whatever we could to help anyone who is in need at the moment. No questions asked.”
The two women update the locations of their upcoming drives on their Facebook pages, and also use Facebook to crowdsource for food supplies from donors who wish to contribute.
The next drive is Aug 25, 8am to 1pm (or until they run out of items) around Blk 20 Chai Chee Road.
Not only that, they also suggested other locations such as neighbourhoods like Jalan Kukoh so that this initiative can benefit those who need it the most.
One netizen shared his concerns that the underprivileged may not know about the initiative as they might not be on social media and urged people to share the news with those who may benefit the most from the giveaways.
Germaine says: “We saw from our first drive that not many people knew, so not many came to collect. As we are an ad hoc pop-up, we take feedback from comments on our page and also from those who visit our PuP to help us decide on the next location.”
She adds: “And to those who can help, donations of basic daily items are also very much appreciated. We welcome anyone to come by to drop off such items at our pop-ups.”
A joint online community effort
To ensure that supplies can meet the demand, PuP gives updates on its Facebook page to indicate when “hot favourites” such as Milo, luncheon meat, canned sardine, rice, oil and cereal drinks are running low. This keeps inventory stock at a healthy level so that donations do not expire before they reach the hands of potential takers.
Other than food supplies, PuP also received donated tables and trolleys, which has greatly facilitated the logistics of setting up the pantry drives.
The wonderful thing about what Germaine and Janice are doing is that their idea is so simple that it can be done by anyone: All it needs is some time and effort.
Janice tells The Pride: “Someone in immediate need is not defined by where you stay, what you wear, your age, or what language you speak. Especially in such (difficult) times.”
Their efforts have inspired other Singaporeans on our little red dot to think of setting up free food pantries in their own neighbourhoods: “I feel like setting up, but I can’t and I’m not sure how to start and do it alone.. I stay in Bishan.. Anyone keen to give a helping hand to me and also some guides on the way? Thank you,” asked netizen Serene Rosy Tan.
Would you fill the pantry, or help man it? You can play your part by spreading the word to people you know who can benefit from it, by following PuP on its Facebook page or support with donations for daily basic items. You can drop off your donations at PuP’s pop-up itself!
As for the duo’s future plans, they say they want “to help as many who are in need as possible. We have been asked if we would pop up at other parts of the island… We currently have no plans yet. Do you think we should?”
Well, you can tell them your thoughts on their Facebook page or pop by their pop-by store tomorrow (Aug 25) at around Blk 20 Chai Chee Road!