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Support Your Local Foodfare - Why and How?

Updated: Jun 25, 2021

Safe management measures are tightened for higher-risk settings, such as when there is a high density of people who are without masks for a prolonged period. With this recent implementation, all dining in has been ceased, including at hawker centers and food courts, indoors and outdoors. Food and beverage (F&B) establishments will allow only takeaway or delivery. While takeaway and deliveries remain viable options for us consumers, the sales of all F&B establishments have taken a hit nonetheless. However, one that has taken a hit in particular – hawker centers, one that Singaporeans love and are familiar with.

The sight of people staying in queues for hours in hopes of securing a packet of locally fried char kway teow or a piping hot bowl of prawn noodles is not uncommon. In fact, our hawker culture has made its way to the international stage with the recognition of our country’s hawker center as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity by UNESCO.

Why do we Singaporeans, even the foreigners, love hawker centers so much. Open-air complexes that house food stalls offering a spectrum of multicultural food. Hawker food boasts multicultural origins but is adapted to suit Singaporean tastes, with many dishes becoming a quintessential part of Singaporean cuisine and culture. It is a one-stop destination, where there is food suited for everyone’s tastebuds. I mean, where else do you get to enjoy multiple cuisines all in one location? Besides the mouth-watering and affordable food, the ambiance is one that you don’t get out of hawker centers. Seated around a roundtable while being in an open space environment, it reminds us Singaporeans of the kampong spirit, where all good things are shared.

All of these do sound really nostalgic? Simple experiences that we treasure and now look back on during this phase. Unfortunately, it is no longer all the same. With the affordability that hawkers are known for, not only are they struggling with increasing food costs but a fall in profits as well? At the normally bustling Newton Food Centre, which was featured in the 2018 movie Crazy Rich Asians, only 10 or so stalls out of nearly 100 have remained open during the pandemic. In order to preserve our hawker heritage, it is thus important for us Singaporeans to support them during this trying period. Only then, will we, as well as our future generations be able to enjoy this experience in time to come. How so?

Let’s start by ordering takeout from these hawkers. While the convenience of food being delivered to our doorsteps does sound very appealing, why not take a stroll to your nearby hawker. Take a breather from home-based learning or work from home arrangements.

By doing so we are able to support these hawker stalls, especially those of the older generation who are not as technologically savvy. Oftentimes, older hawkers have trouble navigating the internet or get technical assistance. They tend to have more trouble navigating online platforms to receive orders and make food deliveries.

If takeouts are inconvenient, there has been a growing number of hawkers being listed on food delivery platforms, such as GrabFood and Foodpanda. Some of them have adopted their own delivery services. Order from them instead – it is always a refreshing change from our café and restaurant food!

The future of Singapore’s hawker industry does not rest on the aspiring hawkers or government grants alone; instead, it requires an entire nation’s contributions. While many of us have been affected by the pandemic to a varying level of extent, let us all do our part in supporting these hawkers. A meal a day, from a family of five – individual efforts count. Until then, the preservation of our city’s hawker culture remains a stumbling, but hopeful, journey.

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