PETALING JAYA — While the simple comfort of a hot meal may not seem significant for most of us, it can mean everything to a person living on the streets with nowhere else to turn to.
As Malaysia goes through a second Ramadan under the Covid-19 pandemic, soup kitchens, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and even a handful of private companies have stepped up to feed the needy.
Many NGOs have also taken on other challenges during this time such as tackling food waste and promoting Covid-19 vaccine awareness amongst marginalised groups.
Read on to find out more about the various initiatives taking place and how the public can help.
Pit Stop Community Cafe
Located in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, Pit Stop Community Cafe offers marginalised groups a place to refuel and recharge with its dinner service.
Volunteers typically cook and distribute 180 to 200 meals during each session which starts at 5pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays for the month of Ramadan.
One of the biggest challenges the cafe faces is the issue of food waste due to lack of coordination amongst smaller groups in the city who are also trying to help the street community.
“We would like to urge those who would like to distribute food and non-food items to those in need to work with established groups to reach out to the various communities in need in the city so as to best utilise and maximise limited resources.
“We merely ask, during this holy month, to please practice care and consideration towards those in need; find out what they need most, because that is the best way for us to give a hand up to those who could use a little help,” Pit Stop Community Cafe wrote on Facebook.
Pertiwi Soup Kitchen
Founded in 2010 under Pertubuhan Tindakan Wanita Islam, Pertiwi Soup Kitchen provides free meals and clean water to less fortunate communities in the capital city.
The charity is currently handing out 1,000 packs of food on average every day in the Medan Tuanku and Chow Kit areas.
In addition to providing food, Pertiwi Soup Kitchen also assists poor families who cannot afford basic essentials.
Founder Datuk Munirah Abdul Hamid told Malay Mail that while Malaysians are a generous bunch, the public can help those in need even more by looking beyond food donations and giving resources to help underprivileged children with their studies instead.
“Our bigger concern is about the children who have stopped going to school.
“How are we going to teach them to read and write? How can we teach them some employable skills so that they can earn a living?
“We must help sensibly. It goes beyond feeding,” said Munirah.
Those who want to donate or volunteer can contact Munirah at 012-2363639 or visit Pertiwi Soup Kitchen’s Facebook group.
Dapur Jalanan Kuala Lumpur
Dapur Jalanan Kuala Lumpur (DJKL) is currently providing food for the street community every Sunday evening along Jalan Panggung.
Around 120 to 150 meals are given during each session though those figures doubled during the first MCO last year as the closure of restaurants as well as the halt in construction work caused a spike in unemployment.
While the conditional MCO has helped revive the economy somewhat, DJKL chairman Mohd Ezzuandi Ngadi said the real challenge now is raising Covid-19 vaccine awareness and fighting the spread of pandemic misinformation amongst marginalised groups.
“When the MCO had just started, many of (the marginalised groups) were not aware of the order and the need of staying at home.
“Some of them even replied to us, ‘which home can we go to? We don’t have any home!’
“At the moment, we are working on vaccine registration awareness which is even more challenging as the communities don’t really understand why it is important to get vaccinated and many of them are referring to unreliable sources,” said Ezzuandi.
For more information on DJKL’s work, check out their Facebook.
Kechara Soup Kitchen
Kechara Soup Kitchen (KSK) has been aiding the needy for the past 13 years through its three programmes: Soup Kitchen, Food Bank, and Empowerment.
Around 140 vegetarian lunch sets are given out daily and 650 meal sets are given to those in need every week during KSK’s street distribution, while 1,000 families nationwide benefit from dry food donations from its food bank every month.
The NGO has also been fighting food waste by redirecting surplus food away from landfills and distributing it daily to those in need instead, including charity homes.
KSK has its sights set on reaching out to more needy communities and it launched a food bank in Bentong, Pahang recently to continue its goal to help those living in rural areas.
“We recognise the dire effects of the persistent pandemic on both income sources and welfare aid to B40 Malaysians.
“This was how Food Bank Bentong was born, to serve Pahangites in rural areas. We are now at the stage of welcoming food donations from the public,” a KSK representative told Malay Mail.
Members of the public who wish to donate or volunteer can visit KSK’s website or contact 010-3333260.
SEED Foundation was set up in 2014 to provide support for some of the most vulnerable communities in Kuala Lumpur, including transgender people and individuals living with HIV.
The NGO’s executive director Mitch Yusof told Malay Mail that its drop-in centre at Chow Kit serves an average of 150 people each day.
Those in the queue include members of the B40 group as well as elderly people living in poverty.
The organisation has also started a food aid programme in conjunction with Ramadan to provide sponsored meals for sahur and the breaking of fast.
Mitch said they are working closely with sponsors to ensure that no extra meals end up in the bin.
“For SEED, as we distribute food from our drop-in centre, we minimise wastage as we make sure that the people who want to contribute have a specific day that they can donate their contribution,” said Mitch.
If you’re interested in sponsoring meals, contact Mitch at 012-3859624 or go to SEED Foundation’s Facebook.
Kindness Kitchen Cafe
Located in Alor Setar, Kindness Kitchen Cafe is a project under the NGO Kindness Malaysia which aims to give less fortunate families a chance to enjoy the experience of dining out at no cost.
The project kicked off on April 8 and the cafe serves a variety of food including rice and side dishes, Western food, and pastries.
Needy individuals from all backgrounds, including people with disabilities and orphans, are also welcome to come in for a meal.
A representative from Kindness Kitchen Cafe told Malay Mail that 25 to 30 meals are usually served during each session, which runs every Saturday from 6.30pm to 9pm during Ramadan.
They also have plans to continue the project after the fasting month wraps up.
Kindness Kitchen Cafe is located at 2967E Jalan Sultanah, 05350 Alor Setar, Kedah. To find out more, visit Kindness Malaysia’s Facebook.
UV Kool Tint branches
Car accessory shop UV Kool Tint has launched a food bank at all its branches nationwide.
TMK Industries managing director Mohd Fadzli Che Harun said the initiative was taken as each branch operator wanted to help people who had been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We want to ensure nobody goes hungry as many have become jobless due to the pandemic.”
Those who need food, said Fadzli, can drop by at any of the branches to take it.
UV Kool Tint is available in all states except Sabah, Sarawak and Perlis.
For further information, visit their website at www.uvkool.com.
Pertubuhan Amal Ai Xin Fan Tong
With the Covid-19 pandemic not showing signs of slowing down, more people are reaching out to organisations for help to survive.
Pertubuhan Amal Ai Xin Fan Tong in Ipoh helps the needy by giving out packed food or dried goods.
Its co-ordinator Moke Yit Wing said the organisation gives out 1,120 food packets daily from Monday to Friday.
“Our delivery covers Pasir Pinji, Pasir Puteh, Buntong, Menglembu, First Garden, Taman Cempaka, Kampung Simee, Gunung Rapat, Kampung Tawas and Bercham,” he said.
They use 80 kilogrammes of pork, 87 birds of poultry and one kilogram of fish every week.
The organisation’s monthly operating cost comes up to about RM30,000.
Those wanting to donate cash or food to the organisation can contact Moke (012-5068884).