“Food Scavengers” have appeared at the hawker centres of Chinatown.
According to 8world News, there are at least seven people who would appear at different time frames to eat the remaining food from unkept plates or trays at the return station.
The Habits of Food Scavengers
Based on the observations of the cleaners and 8world reporters, there is an uncle in his sixties who would frequently come to the hawker centre to eat the scraps in the morning, but he has not appeared for more than a month; there are two frequent patrons in the afternoon; and two more people who would consistently appear during the lunch and dinner hour.
One of the uncles – who appears to be in sixties – even went as far as bringing his own box or plastic bag to “take away” the food remnants of other patrons.
While the reporter was making rounds during the three mealtimes, they even personally witnessed two men eating scraps off plates.
At around 10am on 21 October, a reporter spotted a man in a blue-coloured shirt picking up a morsel of food from the tray and putting it in his mouth before leaving.
Subsequently, he circled around the hawker centre, noticed that there was a bowl with some noodles left in it on the table, sat down, and ate a mouthful. When the reporter tried to question him, he refused to answer.
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In the afternoon of the same day, the report saw another Indian man with crutches walking around and checking if there were any food remains on the table. At one point, he lingered in front of a bowl for a long time, even bending over to see if there was any food left.
The reporter did not see the man taking away any of the leftovers, but the 41-year-old cleaner revealed that he was one of the “food scavengers” too.
She said, “There are two people in the afternoon. At around 8 or 9 in the morning, there’s an uncle who will (pick) lots of food to eat, whether it’s soup or rice, he will eat it, and he will even sip on the drinks. However, he hasn’t been here for more than a month.”
The next day (22 Oct), the reporter saw the same Indian man pacing back and forth at the hawker centre. However, he didn’t seem to find anything he wanted for “dinner” so he left after five minutes.
The Plates Left On The Table By Patrons
However, the reporter did see another uncle, who after seeing that a group of patrons didn’t return their cutlery to their station, sauntered over to the table to sit down while holding a beer bottle.
He used the same pair of chopsticks that the previous patron used and ate the remaining noodles from the same bowl. While he was eating, he would drink from the beer bottle.
When questioned, the uncle told the reporter that his surname was Hong and he was 68 this year. He resides nearby.
Similar to the other food scavengers, he refused to answer the reporter when she asked why he was eating leftovers, nor was he willing to reveal his own financial situation.
In fact, he berated the reporter, “Don’t ask so much lah,” then left.
The beverage stall assistant, Mr Zhang, revealed that Mr Hong was not drinking from a beer bottle that someone else left behind. Rather, he had just bought it from the stall.
“When I saw him eating the leftovers, I thought he didn’t have any money, but he has the money to buy beer.
Madam Zhou also conveyed that she has seen the Indian man sitting at the corner of the hawker centre and drinking beer many times. However, she does not know if he bought the beverage, or it was left behind by another patron.
On 21 Oct, the reporter observed that he had ordered three bottles of beer from the beverage stall.
Authorities Are Trying To Identify These People To Provide Assistance
In response to 8world News’ enquiries, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) said that the ministry is working closely with grass-root volunteers and stall owners to identify these seniors, so they can provide them with financial assistance and meals.
The MSF spokesperson urged members of the public to contact the ministry’s hotline at 1800-222-0000, or to contact the nearest social service centre or family service centre.
Members of the public can use the “Help Neighbour” function on the One Service app as well.
The People’s Park Complex chairman Xie Saiying stated that the management has already informed the cleaners to clean up the food that the patrons leave behind as quickly as possible.
Eating leftovers is incredibly unhygienic and may lead to infectious diseases. Mr Xie hopes that the stalls will cooperate in helping curb these behaviours as well.
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