Even amid the circuit breaker — Singapore’s Covid-19 lockdown equivalent — charities, social enterprises and individuals continued to forge forward in their efforts to help the needy.
In fact, during that period, charities saw a spike in people who required help.
Nizar Mohamed Shariff of non-profit organisation Free Food For All told The Straits Times in April that the number of households who applied for aid increased from “100 to about 1,200 a month”.
While these charity organisations continued to offer aid, some started brand new initiatives to provide some relief to the needy.
Jason Chua and Hung Zhen Long, co-founders of Beng Who Cooks were part of this group.
Beng Who Cooks started in 2018. It is a hawker stall situated in Hong Lim Food Centre, which sells affordable protein bowls.
During the time of the pandemic, the two young founders kicked off the Beng Who Cares Foundation to provide meals for anyone in need.
‘No Questions Asked’ Policy
The Beng Who Cares Foundation provides free meals for anybody unable to afford them during this time of hardship.
In an interview with Vulcan Post, Jason shared that the duo would not probe — “all someone has to do is ask, and we will deliver the food to them to get over this hard period”.
The initiative started on April 6, just a day before the circuit breaker measures kicked in.
Jason told Official NYPTV that a friend of his related a story to him, about a homeless man going around asking for money. When the man was given S$2, he went to buy himself goreng pisang (banana fritters) and a cup of coffee.
“Both of us [Zheng Long and Jason] have been poor in our life before. We know how it feels, so we do not want anybody to feel the way we felt,” said Jason.
Less than 12 hours after the incident, Beng Who Cares Foundation was launched and the initiative went viral overnight.
Interestingly, the duo has requested for the public to hold back on sending them monetary donations, and instead focus on getting the word out to those they can benefit.
Motivating And Getting Motivation From Those They’ve Helped
Zhen Long shared that there was a homeless man who had been receiving help from the duo.
He later came forward to tell them that he would not require free food anymore, as the duo had inspired him to get back on his feet and find a job.
Likewise, Jason told Vulcan Post that this incident was what he thought was one of the biggest successes of the foundation.
“He actually motivated us more than we motivated him, as it was something we didn’t plan,” said the 28-year-old.
The work of Beng Who Cares Foundation has caught the attention of larger organisations like Volkswagen.
The German automaker loaned the duo the Golf, which made mass deliveries easier — they were able to receive and deliver at least 30 orders at one go.
Since the initiative began, the Beng Who Cooks Foundation has given out a total of 2,500 to 2,700 meals.
They have also since spent a total of S$15,000 on this initiative.
Navigating Past The Pandemic And Beyond
According to Jason, the list of beneficiaries of the Beng Who Cooks Foundation is currently “pretty short”, and beneficiaries will have to collect the food themselves.
Jason shared that they decided to cease their delivery services after two months. Some people would scold or block them, but due to financial reasons, the move was necessary.
When asked how the business had changed since Phase 2 began, Jason likened it to three years ago, when they first started out.
However, the Beng Who Cooks is still optimistic as the business is “still running.”
“The fall in business cannot be compared to during the Circuit Breaker period.”
Even though he feels that the financial situation might be “depressing” during this period, he is determined to “keep going forward, and not back down”.
“Beng Who Cooks will always be Beng Who Cooks — honest, loud, hardworking.”
Featured Image Credit: Beng Who Cares via Instagram