A hot meal can be a luxury and a privilege – in a glamorous city like Hong Kong, many are still living below the poverty line and experiencing hunger. Although food assistance offers a potential solution, the conventional way of face-to-face meal box distribution may sometimes evoke discomfort in the beneficiaries. It can also be easily disturbed by external factors such as hygiene concerns amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Luckily, with the launch of Automated Food Dispenser Service (AFDS), a programme initiated by Hong Kong Jockey Club in collaboration with Food Angel in 2020, food assistance has now broken a new ground. From now on, people in need can make food choices with dignity, and with more flexibility and convenience.
AFDS operate around the clock at 13 easily accessible locations, including Link’s Nam Cheong Place, Tin Yiu Plaza, Cheung Wah Shopping Centre, Tsui Ping North Shopping Circuit, Tai Wo Plaza and Leung King Plaza. They allow eligible users, who may be unemployed or underemployed families, to use their digital membership cards to collect free cook-chill meal boxes twice a day by scanning their QR codes on the cards upon meal box collection. An AFD operates like a vending machine and offers three menus daily. Users can select their preferred meal with just a click on the display screen. With food allergen code and best before dates clearly labelled, the meal boxes can be reheated easily and stored up to five days when properly refrigerated.
As part of the Jockey Club Food Assistance Programme, the AFDS have already served 1,800 people in seven districts as of March 2021. To extend the convenience to more people in need, Link will continue to provide venues free of charge and locate appropriate venues to install more AFDS in its malls this year, while the AFDS programme aims to deploy a total of 50 AFDS in various venues across Hong Kong in phases over a three-year period starting from 2020.
Food Angel – Love & Food Sharing and Education
In addition to providing free venues for the AFDS, Link has been supporting Food Angel for the fifth consecutive year, arranging for surplus food to be collected at 36 Link’s fresh markets and 15 shopping centres to help prepare meal and food packs to the needy. The project targets to save more than 600 tonnes food waste each year.
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