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MALAYSIA – Karak town’s food-for-all initiative gaining popularity

By T.N.Alagesh New Straits Times Sat, May 9, 2020

Pertubuhan Kebajikan Karak 2020 decided to prepare and distribute cooked meals at a bus stop in Jalan Besar here to the people regardless of their race and background. -PiC courtesy of Pertubuhan Kebajikan Karak 2020

BENTONG: When a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in Karak here started distributing grocery items to the needy during the Movement Control Order (MCO), they realised that some of the recipients did not have proper cooking facilities.

Following this, from May 1, Pertubuhan Kebajikan Karak 2020 decided to prepare and distribute cooked meals at a bus stop in Jalan Besar here to the people regardless of their race and background.

The NGO’s “drive-thru” concept has been the talk of the town.

Besides providing free cooked packed meals, kind-hearted residents joined in by sending fruits, boxes of kurma (dates) and ‘kuih’ to be distributed to the needy.

Everyday at 5pm, members of the NGO would arrange the cooked meals and drinks on two tables while some donors will drop by to send other delicacies including porridge, traditional ‘kuih’ and cookies.

Its chairman P. Jegathesan, 36, said they would prepare about 250 packets of food including 150 for Muslims to break their fast daily.

“Due to the ban on Ramadan bazaars, a Muslim food stall operator could not do business so we told him to prepare the packed meals for distribution while another caterer prepared the drinks. We pay them for the meals and drinks.

“When news spread that we provided free meals and drinks, some ‘kuih’ sellers decided to send their food items here to be given out for free.

“Besides the packed meals, we will have up to five extra food items for distribution and some people send packed fruits and packet drinks,” he said when contacted.

Jegathesan said anyone who needed it were welcome to collect the food because the aim of the programme was to ensure that no one would go hungry.

“We even distribute the food to foreigners and they are grateful to get the aid.

“There were some disabled individuals who came during the first few days using walking aids, so we decided to deliver the food to their homes instead.

“We only prepare 250 food packets daily but it could reach up to 400 packets when kind donors provide additional meals. Since we distribute them in an open area, there is no long queue and people immediately leave after collecting the food,” he said, adding thsat hand sanitisers were also provided to ensure proper hygiene were observed.

He said during the early stages of the MCO, members went around the town distributing grocery items to those in need including foreigners at construction sites.

“However, we realised that not everyone can cook meals with vegetables, while some told us they could not afford to replace their gas cylinders.

“So we decided to get someone to cook and we will instead distribute the meals so that more people will benefit,” he said.

Meanwhile, Jegathesan said the NGO, with 150 members started out as a WhatsApp group in 2015 during a blood donation campaign.

“Once the blood donation campaign ended, some members suggested to maintain the chat group to form an NGO to help the needy.

“We went on to organise several programmes at nearby plantations and estates including providing free breakfast to a Tamil school here in 2018,” he said.


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