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Food from the Heart and OCBC Bank launch second shop-for-free Community Shop in Boon Lay to offer wider food choices to families in need

Food from the Heart and OCBC Bank launch second shop-for-free Community Shop in Boon Lay to offer wider food choices to families in need

  • 24 Mar 2021

Singapore, 24 March 2021 – Following the success of Singapore’s first shop-for-free Community Shop at Mountbatten, Food from the Heart (FFTH) and OCBC Bank today announced the opening of a second shop at Boon Lay. The new Community Shop will start serving 350 households after its opening and is projected to serve 1,000 needy households in Boon Lay and the neighbouring areas by the end of the year. Beneficiaries include needy families served by both Boon Lay Citizens’ Consultative Committee (CCC) and NTUC Health.

Mr Desmond Lee, Minister for National Development, Minister-in-charge for Social Services Integration, and Member of Parliament for West Coast GRC officiated the opening of the Community Shop @ Boon Lay. Also present was Mr Eric Chua, Parliamentary Secretary for Ministry of Social and Family Development, and Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.

Ms Sim Bee Hia, CEO, Food from the Heart, says, “Over the years, our standard of living and income has gone up for most of us. We live better lives, receive better education and eat better. At the same time, the profile of beneficiaries receiving food support has also changed. We wanted to uplift our beneficiaries' lives by leading change in the way the needy receives their food support. The success of our first Community Shop shows that we are moving in the right direction, being beneficiary-centric while leveraging on technology to gather data that will help us to understand and meet their needs better.”

“After a year of operation, we collected feedback from Mountbatten beneficiaries to understand their collecting habits, giving the needy a voice. The survey shows that our Community Shop concept that returns the dignity of choice to the needy resonates with the recipients. 98% of the respondents selected the Shop as their preferred food programme, with 92% giving “freedom to choose what I need” as the top reason for their preference.” Ms Sim added.

Insights from FFTH Survey

  • Dignity and freedom of choice resonate with recipients. 98% of the respondents selected the shop as their preferred type of food programme. 90% of them prefer Community Shop because they have the freedom to choose.
  • The Community Shop is effective in catering to the different lifestyle needs of beneficiaries, for example, those who cook and those who don’t cook.
  • The shop-for-free concept provides 100% of the respondents with an enjoyable shopping experience. 25% of the respondents visit the shop at least once a week.
  • The Community Shop provides targeted help and reduces food waste. 73% of the respondents knew what they want to redeem during every visit. 14% of respondents said they would not redeem food items if they do not see anything they need or suitable.
  • The shop provided opportunities for social interaction for beneficiaries. 68% of the respondents said they made new friends at the shop, either with neighbours or volunteers.

Ms Sim says, “We are heartened that OCBC is supporting Food from the Heart’s Community Shop programme once again. Their confidence and trust in this new project a year ago have allowed it to take off. We look forward to sharing the data captured in the electronic point-of-sale system with OCBC’s data analytics volunteer team to understand the beneficiaries’ consumption habits further.”

Sharing OCBC Bank’s rationale for supporting the community shops, Ms Koh Ching Ching, OCBC Bank Head of Group Brand and Communications said, “During the six years in which our employees have volunteered with Food from the Heart, we have come to realise that there is no cookie-cutter solution for feeding the needy. For instance, those living alone may not be motivated to cook whereas those with health conditions like diabetes should avoid consuming too many carbohydrates. This prompted us to explore and support different approaches.”

“In February 2020, we supported the first community shop at Mountbatten to enable individuals and families to choose their preferred food items. This helps reduce instances of their receiving food types they do not need or too much of the same type of food; and allows those with health issues to pick options that are best for their condition. We are happy to support this new shop at Boon Lay to help more beneficiaries.”

“In addition, staff volunteers from our data analytics team can help Food from the Heart to analyse data collected from both shops to understand food consumption habits to facilitate the call for food donations.”

One of the beneficiaries from NTUC Health, Mr Ahmad Maricar Bin Abdul Maricar, 82, shared, “The shop has plenty of useful items to choose from, and I can even select the brands. I am looking forward to shopping from here every month.”

About Community Shop Programme

The Community Shop was started in 2020 by OCBC as a shop-for-free food mart concept that operates on a digital redemption system.

Beneficiaries are empowered to choose 12 food items from the shop each month and visit the Shop on multiple occasions throughout the month. The shop is open every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, from 9.30am to 12.30pm.

Food items include staples, canned food, bread spreads, biscuits, oil and condiments. Visiting on multiple occasions lightens the load for the elderly and cuts food wastage as beneficiaries are encouraged to take what they require, when needed.

Why Boon Lay?

The Community Shop @ Boon Lay is situated within a cluster of rental flats and its proximity to 3-roomers. The familiarity of the neighbourhood and short walking distances for beneficiaries are important factors when considering a Community Shop site.

Community Shop @ Boon Lay is a brand-new food distribution experience for NTUC Health beneficiaries, who have previously been receiving food packs from FFTH. The launch of Community Shop @ Boon Lay also marks the partnership between FFTH and Boon Lay CCC. The Community Shop @ Boon Lay is supported by OCBC Bank and Care & Share Matching Grant.

Shop address: Blk 176 Boon Lay Drive, #01-366, Singapore 640176
Shop operating hours: Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, 9.30am – 12.30pm

For media enquiries, please contact:

Sandra Zhang
Senior Manager
Communications & Marketing
Food from the Heart
Mobile: 8321 3969
DID: 6958 8842


Isabella Chia
Group Brand and Communications
Mobile: 9878 6298

Jade Tan
Communications and Marketing
Food from the Heart
Mobile: 9783 0621
DID: 6958 8844


Heng Yishi
Assistant Manager
Group Brand and Communications
Mobile: 8101 8939




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