This is a discovery tour of food banks and food charities in Hong Kong. This tour aims to deeply understand the concept of food security based on food banks and food charities. Hong Kong, a former British colony, is one of Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China and it is in south-eastern China. Hong Kong is a metropolis which is a major port and global financial hub and also a major shopping destination in the world. According to the 2016 census1, Hong Kong has more than 7.37 million people, of which 7 percent are foreign nationals.
The food bank first originated in Western countries and its purpose is that distributing food to those who have difficulty purchasing enough food to avoid hunger. As Hong Kong was ruled by England for a century and a half, it incorporated a lot of western culture into its original cultural background. At the same time, many western people come to spread their culture in different ways. Thus, Hong Kong government and some organisations and individuals accepted the idea of the food bank and implemented food banks. Furthermore, the rise of the food bank in Hong Kong is an inevitable result which caused by the local economic gap between different classes. Even though Hong Kong is one of the world financial centres and economic develops rapidly, the gap between classes is noticeable. In 2015, the number of poor people reached 1.3 million, accounting for 19.7 percent of the total population2. Therefore, the establishment of food banks is an important measure to avoid the poor people do not have access to get enough food. What’s more, in order to help more residents to avoid hunger, there are not only food banks that distribute food to people but also food charities that serve hot meals and food vouchers to them.
This tour was carried out mainly in three districts of Hong Kong – Sham Shui Po, Kowloon Kwun Tong District (Yau Tong) and Hong Kong Island. Some food banks or food charities are located in these areas. Some of the institutions are funded by the government for those who receive comprehensive social security assistance from Social Welfare Department. Some of the organisations collaborate with a church that helps families with significant changes to alleviate economic pressure on food. As well some serve a hot meal with cheap price or free to old people and the hungry.
The first area is Sham Shui Po. There are two sites of food charities that serve hot meals. One is Pei Ho Barbecue Restaurant, the other one is Food angel.
(Pictures: restaurant brand, food and a hot meal voucher)
Taking the MTR Tsuen Wan Line to Sham Shui Po station and using the C2 exit. This area is often regarded as a local area because it gets fewer impacts of international finance. Exit from C2, crossing the Apliu Street and walking straight along the Kweilin Street to the Lai Chi Kok Road. And then turn left to reach the Pei Ho Street and further down a few metres you will find a busy restaurant. This is Pei Ho Barbecue Restaurant which will walk for 9 minutes from the Sham Shui Po station. This restaurant was established by Mr Ming and he also founded Pei Ho (Ming Gor) Charity Foundation Limited. The restaurant serves hot meals for the public with low price and offers vouchers for hot meals to residents who cannot afford enough food. People who hold the voucher can get a hot meal including meat, fish, vegetable and rice. The head of the restaurant – Mrs Lui said: ” a lot of elderly people are willing to buy meal every day and every Wednesday, we will give people who live under the bridge some hot meal.” The Pei Ho Charity is running for several years and they insist on providing cheap or free but high-quality meal to help low-income residents and homeless people.
(Pictures: Food Angel Brand)
(Pictures: leaflets of organisation)
(Pictures: a meal box)
The second place also located in Sham Shui Po is Food Angel. After leaving the Pei Ho Barbecue Restaurant, along the Pei Ho Street straight to the Yee Kuk Street turn right and go straight to the Yen Chow Street turn left. And then reach the Hai Tan Street turn right and go up you will see the Food Angel is located at the intersection of the Hai Tan Street and the Kiu Kiang Street. This is a kitchen that serves a free hot meal every weekday. This kitchen makes hot meals with surplus food which donated by food companies and hotels. One of staff said that they will make around 4000 boxes of meal every day and deliver meal boxes to residents who registered in Food Angel. Food angel has a very strict inspection of food hygiene before cooking the meal to ensure food safety. As well, for beneficiaries, they also have a series of criteria to select, for example, beneficiaries are low-income families with children and 65 years old and more people who live alone. It offers a venue for the old and children to come to the kitchen to dine. The kitchen is very busy and there are less full-time staffs. Thus, Food Angel welcomes a large number of volunteers to join the team and take part in the help.
The second area is Kowloon Kwun Tong District (Yau Tong). There is the biggest food bank in Hong Kong – Feeding Hong Kong. Taking the MTR Kwun Tong Line or Tseung Kwan O Line to the Yau Tong Station. As you exit the MTR station from Exit A2 onto Cha Kwo Ling Road walk to the left. After few minutes walking turn right and go straight, you will see a Block A2 building on the left. And Feeding Hong Kong is at unit 715-17.
(Pictures: Feeding Hong Kong Brand)
(Pictures: viewing of shelves)
(Pictures: recipe book)
Feeding Hong Kong aims to reduce the gap between food waste and hunger. They collect high-quality surplus food and deliver it to a network of local welfare organisations who are able to distribute food to people in need in Hong Kong. Consequently, it benefits to reduce food waste and help to feed the hunger. Feeding Hong Kong owns a big warehouse to store the food which collects from retailers, manufacturers and distributors. At the same time, Feeding Hong Kong cooperates with other organisations to hold public welfare activities and raise money at the event，for instance， Charity Ramp Run. What’s more, it also published several volumes of book that the content is recipes for making dishes with surplus food. These books help people to use surplus food and reduce food waste.
The third area is Hong Kong Island. This tour includes three sites in this area.
(Pictures: entry of organisation )
The first organisation is St. James’ Settlement Sai On Centre. Taking the MTR Island Line to Sai Ying Pun Station. Exit from B2 at Second Street，go up to the end of the street. Then on the right hand, it is the Water Street and goes straight about 2 minutes you will see St. James’ Settlement Sai On Centre. This centre offers short-term food assistance and milk powder subsidy scheme. And their beneficiaries are low-income families, unemployed persons, families who get accidents and street sleepers. It only opens from Monday to Friday, unfortunately, this tour happened at the weekend so there is no opportunity to talk with staffs. However, if you have time you can walk around the centre. You might find a lot of old buildings with garden and new fitness facilities as well as if you go the end of the Water Street, you will see several nursing houses on the Des Voeux Road West. Thus, this centre may also serve to the elderly who live in the nearby communities.
(Pictures: entry of cafe )
The second place in Hong Kong Island is Lilyvale Cafe which is one of the Baptist Oi Kwan Social Service. Also, taking the MTR Island Line to Wan Chai station. Using the A3 exit on the Johnston Road, turn left and go up then walk to Wan Chai Road about 7 minutes till the Tak Yan Street. At the end of Tak Yan Street，turn to Oi Kwan Road then you will find the cafe on the left hand. It is a restaurant that offers HK$ 10 per meal to low-income families and unemployed individuals. But it also serves on weekdays at 6 pm – 8 pm. As the cafe is surrounded by high-level hotels and schools and located at the more prosperous area, it is hard to determine whether this area has a phenomenon of food insecurity. And I am very glad if you have interesting to explore this place.
(Pictures: church sign and signature wall)
The final organisation is New Life Baptist Church in Chai Wan area. Taking the MTR Island Line to Chai Wan station. Out of the station and following the Kut Shing Street till reaching the Cheung Lee Street. Then go straight and cross the Chui Hang Street, you will see a high-rise building named Cheung Tat Centre and this organisation is located at 16 floors. The New Life Baptist Church belongs to the government and it cooperates with Jubilee Ministries. This church promotes the faith and conveys love while helping the inhabitants. They are responsible for accepting applications for food support and distributing food to residents in short time (6 weeks or 8 weeks). Their food comes from Jubilee Ministries where specially collect the donated food. And this church not only distributes rice, noodles and canned food but also offers vouchers for hot meals and bakery. One of the staffs introduced that in Chai Wan area there are many local residents who live in this community for several decades and some of them are live along, thus, the church would like to help them to relieve pressure. When referring to other charities in Hong Kong, the staff said that they receive meal boxes from Food Angel for residents. At the end of talking, the staff of the church expressed that they hope an increasing number of residents in Hong Kong pay more attention to food waste and encourage residents actively join the charity project.
This tour includes 6 places which all about food banks and food charities. Through observing the surrounding environment and facilities of organisations and talking with their staff, it is easy to find that most of the food banks and food charities are set up in the communities, especially for the communities where living more the elderly. The support projects of these organisations aim to provide access to enough food to residents which link to food security. Simultaneously, these projects benefit to reduce surplus food and food waste in Hong Kong. In addition, these organisations appeal residents to take part in the projects that they could donate some surplus food to organisations, be a volunteer in the teams or deliver the messages of support projects to help people in need in Hong Kong.
For further information or events, please to see the website of some organisations:
Pei Ho (Ming Gor) Charity Foundation Limited – www.peiho.hk
Food Angel Hong Kong — http://www.foodangel.org.hk/zh/
Feeding Hong Kong – www.feedinghk.org
New Life Baptist Church – www.newlifebaptist.org.hk
1 Censtatd.gov.hk. (2017). 人口 – 概述 | 政府統計處. [online] Available at: https://www.censtatd.gov.hk/hkstat/sub/so20_tc.jsp [Accessed 25 April 2017].
2 News.mingpao.com. (2017). Cite a Website – Cite This For Me. [online] Available at: https://news.mingpao.com/ins/instantnews/web_tc/article/20161015/s00001/1476502751699 [Accessed 25 April 2017].