An Entrepreneur’s Perspective on Singapore’s Food Insecurity
Thursday Sep 19,2019 | Social Innovation
Singapore is renowned as a food lover’s paradise and ranks as the most food-secure nation on the 2018 Global Food Security Index. However, according to a research conducted by the Lien Centre for Social Innovation (LCSI), which surveyed 236 mainly low-income households and 35 food support organisations, food insecurity still exists among certain segments of society.
To shed some light on this issue, LCSI organised an Impacthon themed “Food Justice” in September 2018 as a way to gather like-minded individuals and organisations to discuss the topic of food waste, food security and food sustainability.
We caught up with one of the attendees, Fang Xinyan who is the founder of YoRipe, a personalised cooking and grocery application that helps busy Singaporeans cook healthy, stress-free meals.
Prior to the Impacthon, she had no knowledge about the different food-related issues the country was facing. But after attending the event, Xinyan was given a renewed sense of purpose for her own business and is exploring solutions she can apply to her startup in the hopes of transforming the groceries and fast moving consumer goods industry.
Here’s what she has to share about her experience at the Food Justice Impacthon.
What key issues about food insecurity do you resonate with the most?
Food wastage and the lack of nutritional food.
I believe the environmental impact of food wastage is [particularly] serious for Singapore because we are privileged to have an [abundant] choice of high-quality food even though we import over 90% of it. That means in addition to the environmental burden that food waste causes (methane gas, land for landfills), whenever we throw away something that is edible (our nation’s food waste was 791,000 tons in 2017), we’re wasting all the resources used to produce, distribute, and market those produce. Think about the carbon footprint!
With regard to the lack of nutritional food, I think this is particularly challenging for families because processed food and junk food tend to be cheaper, so I see a vicious cycle of the lower-income group consuming these less nutritious or healthy foods, which may cause them to be more prone to health issues. This, in turn, will incur medical expenses that would cause further burden to their financial situation.
Why do you think food insecurity isn’t something more commonly brought up?
I think we take things for granted and assume that food is affordable and there’s charity who would help the lower-income groups because we live in a first-world country.
How do you think everyday citizens can do their part in combating food insecurity?
Being aware that each decision we make on what to eat, where to eat, and who to buy from can make a positive impact on the food supply chain and combating food insecurity.
What was your favourite portion of the Impacthon’s agenda?
The group hackathon where we got the chance to define a specific problem statement. We are often excited to work on the solution but the key is to identify what the problem is and whom we want to benefit.
The panel session was my favourite part of the Impacthon as well because of the speakers from Food Bank Singapore, Food from the Heart, and Foodscape Collective. The discussion was helpful for me to understand how each stakeholder contributes and what issues they face.
What were some key learnings or insights you took away from the event?
Consumer behaviour has an important impact on the balance of the fresh food supply chain. If we’re willing to eat what’s in season and go for the less good-looking produce, it can help reduce waste in farms.
Did participating in the Impacthon challenge or affect the way you approach food?
I respect the people who work in the food industry even more. I will continue to advocate for less food waste and encourage more nutritional eating whenever I can.
The Impacthon is a 2-day hackathon organised by the Lien Centre for Social Innovation that brings together social innovators, changemakers, thought leaders and youths from various backgrounds to tackle real-world issues and societal challenges.
Article written in collaboration with With Content