Meet the Foodies who Feed Communities in Lockdown

Meet the Foodies who Feed Communities in Lockdown

We bring you into the lockdown community to meet the vegetable seller in Malaysia, the enterprising hawker in Singapore, the passionate bread-makers in the Philippines, and more faces who are helping each other get by in the Covid-19 pandemic

Many questions about food were raised during global lockdowns that changed the way we cooked, ate, and shopped for food. For some, it was a matter of survival: "Where else can I get fresh vegetables, meat, some eggs?" For others, it was about seeking comfort: "How long more before I can eat street-food again?"

Soon though, many found answers right in their own communities. We've been hearing how friends, neighbours, and some strangers too, have all been getting by with help from each other.

Now, we'll bring you into these communities where you'll meet a bread-making pair who sold their first loaves to neighbours. And a home gardener whose vegetable-growing pastime supplied bottled juice to a small community. Also among them, a wetmarket seller delivering groceries to those who missed out on crowded supermarket runs.

There are so many more inspiring stories, which we've put together right here

Singapore: Help for Hawkers to Deliver Food

Melvin Chew, a duck rice hawker who started a Facebook group to let hawkers in Singapore list their stalls online in the lockdown. Photo: Jin Ji Teochew Braised Duck & Kway Chap, Chew and mum pictured. 

If you're in Singapore, you might have tapped through Hawkers United, a Facebook page with over a quarter of a million members. Melvin Chew, himself a hawker of a Teochew duck rice stall, started the group just a day into the city's lockdown to help fellow hawkers advertise their stall online with a simple post. That's because some were doing their own deliveries, others were offering altered menus, yet others didn't have delivery options but were still open for take-away.

Putting all that online, he thought, would help them tide through this lockdown. 

Meanwhile, we see how gardening enthusiast Jack Yam's Facebook group Urban Farmers is helping some in sunny Singapore grow their own herbs and vegetables at home, with online tutorials and seed deliveries. 

Manila: Neighbours Support Each Other

A bread selection sold by Wake & Bake, the home-bakery business started in the pandemic. Photo: Wake & Bake

And to Manila, where Eunah Pienada was in a panic. She was looking for bread, but could not find it anywhere in bakeries or supermarkets. The housewife wasn't aware though, that her neighbours, a pair of business partners who had lost their jobs in the pandemic, had begun to make bread at home. They called their small business endeavour "Wake & Bake", and wondered if anyone would buy at all. 

We meet them, along with a small team that delivers local fruits and vegetables at one-click. Since 2011, Good Food Community has been supplying urban folks with weekly seasonal baskets filled with bright cherry tomatoes, sweet pineapples, and dark leafy greens from farms just off the city. Now, these alternative food supplies were quickly becoming a lifeline to many. 

The metropolitan city, where nearly 13 million work, sleep, and eat, was hit by food shortages as they endured one of the world's longest and toughest lockdowns in the pandemic, lasting three months.

Kuala Lumpur: Vegetable Sellers Now Deliver

Lee Cheng Han, who ran a vegetable stall in a wetmarket before the lockdown, was helped by a customer who offered her home as a pick-up point for buyers 

"Can we still get fresh vegetables?" Perhaps that was the question in Kuala Lumpur after several of the city's biggest wholesale and wetmarkets were forced shut. But 70-year-old Chu Oi Lin, who gets her groceries from wetmarkets, refused to sit by. Soon, she came up with a convenient online solution using her apartment as a delivery and pick-up point for wetmarket grocers like Cheng Han (pictured) and many of his customers. 

Besides vegetables, the city's dime-a-dozen hawker stalls were also closed. Many hawkers feared that they could not survive this period. Malaysians too, wondered where else they could get inexpensive, convenient meals. Recognising this urgent need was entrepreneur Ee Soon Seng, who quickly created an online platform allowing hawkers in the densely-populated states of Johor, Kuala Lumpur, Penang and more, to list their stalls there, and people to keep ordering.  

Jakarta: Influencers Rally to Support Food Deliveries

A rice bowl and latte packed for delivery when Happiness Kitchen and Coffee was forced shut in the lockdown. Photo: Happiness Kitchen and Coffee

When Southeast Asia's biggest city went into lockdown and thousands of eateries had to close down, social media personalities rallied in support of them. In one instance, you'll smile at how a fitness influencer, craving a popular deep-fried cassava street snack, turned to instagram in search of it and found her hunger satisfied in an unexpected cafe. 

You'll also meet a home-grower who delivers bottled vegetable juice to a small community, and how a social media influencer helped his vegetable patch reach more people. 

All local listings covered in our stories: 


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