Food Insecurity in Singapore

Food Insecurity in Singapore

Executive Summary

This report will provide a deeper understanding of the food insecurity situation in Singapore. It sheds light on those experiencing food insecurity and the factors playing a role in this experience. In addition, it identifies gaps in food support provision and makes recommendations on how these gaps might be filled for a smoother and targeted food support distribution system.

In order to arrive at an understanding of food insecurity in the island nation, survey data was collected from 4 different geographical locations in Singapore in conjunction with semi-structured interviews with several food support organisations.

Despite the fact that Singapore has been ranked as the fourth most food secure nation in the world, this study shows that food insecurity is prevalent in the study sample, with 26.5% of the survey participants reporting severe food insecurity. Further, while lower income is typically positively correlated with the experience of food insecurity, this report finds that income is not the only factor in persistent food insecurity. Food insecurity is not limited to households belonging to the lowest income bracket, indicating that factors other than economic concerns precipitate the experience of household food insecurity. These other factors are time constraints, social isolation and health concerns.

The food support organisations have responded to household food insecurity in various ways. Besides providing food, some also give households flexibility in buying their own food, ameliorate social isolation through communal meals, and link households up with other forms of social and financial support. Nevertheless, further investigations revealed the extant gaps in service provision of food support. These gaps are lack of nutritious and quality food, inefficient targeting of food insecure households and difficulty in addressing root causes of food insecurity.

Recommendations discussed in the final report include:

Greater Coordination and Targeting of Food Support- this can be made possible via careful assessment of food needs among the target groups such as matching the type of food support to the specific characteristic of the target group. For example, dry rations for those who have the means to cook and cooked meals for those who do not.

Prioritising Nutritious and Quality Food- this can be facilitated through food organisations combining resources so that fresh nutritious food may be available to those in need.

Community-Based Solutions- this suggestion aims at tackling the problem of social isolation and those facing time constraints by bringing people together in community kitchens, cooking classes and community dining options.

Increasing Education- Education and raising awareness about these issues will help to prevent misconceptions on food insecurity and increase empathy for food insecure individuals. This may contribute to creating a less stigmatised food support environment, and generate support to tackle food insecurity in Singapore.

Overcoming Food Insecurity through a Food Systems Approach- Viewing food insecurity as a ‘system’ with multiple stakeholders and interrelated issues provides long-term holistic solutions to tackle it.

The report will be published and available to download from our website in Q1 2018.  

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