GEORGE TOWN, Dec 28 — As the virus continues to thin out wallets, one lawmaker in Penang is doing his bit to ensure low wage earners in Penang and the elderly will have warm meals to greet the new year.
Batu Lanchang assemblyman Ong Ah Teong has roped in hawkers at the Batu Lanchang Hawker Complex here to provide free meals and coupons for the poor for the next 10 days.
Called Com Meals — short for community meals — each of the 35 participating hawkers will provide three free meals to those who needed it for 10 days.
Four drinks stalls at the hawker complex will also give out cash coupons valued at RM1 and 50 sen to the poor to purchase food at discounted prices for the same duration.
“As a start, I have allocated RM300 to be distributed to four coffee and drinks stalls to prepare the cash coupons while I have allocated RM100 to each participating hawker stall to give out the three free meals a day,” Ong said.
He said the cash coupons can be used to purchase any food at the participating hawker stalls in the complex.
For example, if a food item is priced at RM4, a customer using the RM1 cash coupon need only pay RM3.
“The hawkers in this complex are taking part in this to help the less fortunate and some of them are already giving out free meals to some individuals or senior citizens who had come to beg for food,” Ong said.
He said the hawkers are participating in this initiative to do their part for society and hoped customers at the complex will donate to the cause.
“We have placed donation boxes at the four coffee and drinks stalls in the complex so other patrons can donate and the funds will be used for this initiative,” he said.
He said the purpose of Com Meals was to encourage the community to do their part to help the less fortunate.
The 10-day trial period of the initiative with the involvement of 35 hawkers meant that a total 105 meals will be given out free each day which is a total 1,050 meals in 10 days.
“The low-income group and the elderly can also take the coupons from any of the four coffee and drinks stalls to purchase food at discounted rates,” he said.
He said the long-term aim of this initiative was to collect contributions from other patrons and channel it back to the community by feeding the low-income group and the poverty stricken.
“If the response is good to this programme and we receive a high amount of contributions, then we can increase the coupons to RM2 or RM3, it would be good if we have enough to provide more free meals to the poor,” he said.
He said the hawkers usually would know the low-income group patrons who often eat at the hawker complex so they would know who to distribute the free meals and coupons to.
“If this programme is successful, I may introduce this initiative at the Jelutong public market and Jalan Perak hawker centre so that more people in different areas can have access to free meals and discounted meals,” he said.
Ong said his office is also open to any feedback or ideas to improve the initiative.
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