“Have you eaten already?”

It’s a common enough greeting, especially between Chinese-speaking families, to ask after friends and family members when you meet them. But a local website wants to take it to the next level.

On 2 June, when circuit breaker measures were lifted and Phase 1 had just started, GoodHood.SG started an initiative to help those affected by Covid-19.

The #KindCooks initiative aims to connect those who need meals with neighbours who want to spread kindness with home-cooked meals.

It aims to provide 1,000 meals for needy families through an anonymous meal request feature on its GoodHood.SG app.

The app allows people in the same neighbourhood to connect through asking and offering help, exchanging or giving away free items and listing services such as pet-sitting, tuition or even simple household chores.

Founder Nigel Teo started GoodHood.SG to connect neighbours to share information and resources. He told the Straits Times that the initiative was started because “we saw a need on the ground”.

Teo’s idea to start the #KindCooks initiative came after he noticed that there were an increasing number of meal requests on the app. So he decided to encourage neighbours who could cook to connect with those in need of meals.

With the help of Zander Ng, winner of the inaugural MasterChef Singapore, and a team of 20 home cooks, the #KindCooks initiative was able to provide 300 free meals for 40 families in need by mid July.

As a cash-strapped student in his early university days, Ng had started dabbling in cooking as a means to feed himself. The passion burgeoned into hosting weekly dinner parties and conducting cooking lessons for friends.

Spreading the kampung spirit with #KindCooks
Image source: Facebook / GoodHood.SG

Not only did Ng share his talents with others, on the day the meals were to be delivered, the home cooks who participated in the initiative even began sharing recipes and tips over WhatsApp to create the best dishes while keeping in mind the dietary restrictions of the beneficiaries.

Dishes included Mongolian minced beef meatballs, buah keluak ragù with scialatielli, coconut crema and onsen egg, and even Filipino dishes such as chicken adobo with potatoes and eggs with pumpkin and string beans in coconut milk.

Teo shared on Facebook: “This labour of love resulted in a culinary feast that impacted the recipients so much, that many (delivery) drivers came back and told us that when the food was handed over, the recipients cried.

“To us, it’s just another meal, but to many of them, this was the best meal they’ve had in their lives. But what really spoke to them was the symbolism that someone actually cares. They are the invisible ones, the ones who fall between the cracks, the ones who are too afraid to reach out for help under normal circumstances because of the potential stigma,” Teo wrote in a Facebook post.

#KindCooks spreading Singapore's kampung spirit in the community
Image source: Facebook / GoodHood.SG

While the display of kampung spirit was evident, the team also received a number of fake submissions by people who, despite declaring otherwise on a form and through mobile verification, chose to deprive those in need from meals.

“We encountered a requester who messaged us, asking if we had delivered the meals, and what the surprise was, as she didn’t receive it. We can only hope it’s not a case of an abusive partner who finished the meals and kept the NTUC vouchers,” wrote Teo.

However, Teo is not discouraged. In the second run of #KindCooks, which ends on Aug 31, he hopes the network of neighbours on the GoodHood.SG app can provide 1,000 free meals for the needy. This time round, GoodHood.SG is partnering with Kampung Kakis, a buddy system that matches people-in-need with a volunteer kaki from the same neighbourhood, and My Friend Next Door – a ground-up initiative that encourages individuals to be good neighbours – to reach more beneficiaries.

Tan Li Mei, founder of Kampung Kakis, told The Pride in an earlier interview in April: “No matter what happens (after Covid-19), I hope we don’t stop serving our community and that we keep growing the team, bringing together people who have the same mindset and passion for helping others, and see where that takes us.”

Hello everyone! ❤️We are excited to be launching #KindCooks 2, this time in partnership with KampungKakis and My Friend…

Posted by GoodHood.SG on Saturday, June 27, 2020

If you are a talented home chef who is keen to use your culinary skills for good, you can sign up for the GoodHood.SG app to offer meals. Blessers can also claim a token $5 per meal to cover ingredients and delivery, supported by Temasek Trust’s Oscar fund.

If you or anyone you know needs a meal, you can simply submit an anonymous request through the app and wait for a kind neighbour to take it up.

What’s your experience with your own neighbours? Write in to us!

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