When husband-and-wife duo Zulkifli Abdul Halim and Shah Hida Anuar opened their eatery, Satin Satay, in November last year, business was booming.
Situated in Tiong Bahru Market, smack dab in the middle of one of the oldest heartlands in Singapore, their stall was often patronised by elderly folks.
But it wasn’t long before Zulkifli and Shah noticed that, more often than not, the elderly would visit their stall, but refrain from purchasing a full meal.
In a video published on the StandUpFor.SG Facebook page, Zulkifli explained: “Some of them [the elderly] are a bit withdrawn, like they seem keen to come and try our food. But once they ask how much the dishes cost, they tend to hold back, and sometimes just ordered one dish.”
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His wife, Shah, continued: “Some of [them] come to the shop when we are closing, to pick up whatever scraps that we are going to throw out.”
It wasn’t just the elderly who did such a thing, as Shah explained. “There are also [domestic] helpers waiting for their payday who always come to us and always buy the same cheap meals that we have.”
It was then that the couple realised certain groups were greatly limited by their finances – to the point where they couldn’t even afford a full meal.
Wanting to help, Zulkifli recalled telling them: “It’s okay, just take. When you have the money, just pay us.” However, he conceded that they were shy and quite reluctant to do so.
So, the big-hearted couple began thinking of ways to help the needy. Their two-part solution: offering heavily subsidised meals, and letting others chope (reserve) a meal for those who needed one.
‘Chope’ a meal for those who can’t afford one
About half a year ago, Satin Satay began offering ‘bad day meals’, as part of their Bad Day Menu. A ‘bad day meal’ is a heavily subsidised full meal, available to all.
There are two options to choose from, the ‘Lite’ meal, which would set one back by 50 cents, or a ‘Full’ meal, which costs one dollar.
Zulkifli explained: “If you choose ‘Lite’, you pay fifty cents and get a meal worth three dollars. If you choose ‘Full’, you pay a dollar and get a meal worth five dollars.”
One ‘Lite’ meal consists of a hearty noodle dish with eggs, while a ‘Full’ meal features rice, two servings of vegetables and one serving of meat.
That way, anyone and everyone can afford a full and filling meal at Satin Satay.
And the stall’s owners are not only generous in wanting to help the needy, but also ambitious about expanding their horizons to be able to help even more people.
While talking to their friends about this initiative, the couple were offered another perspective: that they didn’t have to do it alone.
Their friends pointed out that if Zulkifli and Shah opened up about their initiative, there would be like-minded and similarly openhearted Singaporeans who would love to contribute.
So, Satin Satay introduced an additional aspect to ‘bad day meals’. Now, the public can donate money to fund free ‘bad day meals’ for needy patrons.
The team behind Satin Satay have also started a Give Asia page to raise funds.
On their Give Asia page, Satin Satay elaborated on the fundraising campaign, writing: “We’d do our best to give a full meal even if an individual could not afford it. We know there are many of your who would like to see a more equal Singapore. So we want to invite you to participate and buy a Bad Day Meal, cos everyone gets a bad day but you don’t need to go hungry.”
It’s a message that has resonated with many. As of today, numerous generous donors have contributed, and Satin Satay has exceeded its goal of raising $5,000.
In an interview with Berita Mediacorp, the couple revealed that, thanks to the generous donations, over 1,200 servings of ‘bad day meals’ have already been redeemed.
Donor Ann Ren explained why she donated the ‘bad day meal’ fund: “Because a decent meal helps to brighten a day for someone, brings on a smile, fills the belly and give them hope. Spread that love.”
One anonymous donor wrote: “I donated because this is cause that is touching on our most basic need. Food. For those in need. And also because I know the stall owners/fundraisers. They have always given a voice to those in need.”
No one is turned away
Additionally, ‘bad day meals’ are not just restricted to the elderly, differently abled or the needy.
Zulkifli said: “Bad days don’t just occur to people who do not have money. People who have money have bad days as well. So, that’s why we decided that ‘bad day meals’ are for anyone.”
“We love [helping others] and want to give more meals to anyone who may need it.”
Speaking to Berita Mediacorp, Shah revealed that she and her husband hope to open more stalls in the future to expand their ‘bad day meal’ initiative, and to help the needy. “I want people to know, I’m here to help,” Shah said.
And in the meantime, they invite other food vendors to adopt their initiative.
Hopefully, others will be inspired by the couple’s kind act to look into ways through which they can similarly give back to society.