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A Discussion: Food Donations and Nutrition

Published: 30 April 2021, Friday

A Discussion: Food Donations and Nutrition

Rice, instant noodles, canned food and malt drinks – these are some commonly-donated food items that Food from the Heart approves of and calls out for.

However, it is often pointed out that canned food and instant noodles typically contain preservatives and are not great for health. So why is it that Food from the Heart still has such items on our wish list?


Cost & Shelf Life

Given Food from the Heart’s status as an independent charity, funds and resources for food, logistics and manpower are limited. Without the restrictions of cold chain logistics that fresh food would demand, canned food items are easier to manage during the distribution process, which is handled by Food from the Heart, community partners and individual volunteers. Canned food can also be kept by beneficiaries for a longer period of time. Considering these factors, canned food items provide more value than their fresh counterparts, which also require stricter food safety procedures.


Choice & Taste

Sensible lifestyle choices are boring. After all, how many times have we failed to stick to a healthy diet ourselves? Among the many life compromises our beneficiaries have to make, tasty and familiar food is a simple comfort that can help brighten their day. Comfort food like instant noodles and canned food are flavourful, thus less ingredients and effort are required to cook up an enjoyable meal.


Balancing it Out

When choosing items for the Food from the Heart food pack, we consider the nutritional profile of each item, our beneficiaries’ liking towards them, and whether the cost is sustainable. The composition of our food packs has gone through thorough consideration to serve as many beneficiaries as we can while maintaining our standards of giving.

We are constantly trying to increase the nutritional value of our food pack to balance taste and convenience with our limited resources. In recent years, our food packs have been revamped to include fresh food items like vegetables, fruit and eggs. We also ask for items with healthier options such as ‘less sugar’ and ‘kosong’ instead of ‘3-in-1’ under our Donate Right programme and in our wish list.


Habits & Preferences

Many of our beneficiaries have seen better days. They are used to certain flavours, taste, type and brands of food. It is not easy to give these up.

One preference most elderly beneficiaries have for staples is rice and noodles. These are more familiar staples compared to Western variations such as pasta, which is less popular with them as they might not know how to cook it.

Bread is also commonly found in our beneficiaries’ diet. While the bread from our Bread Run programme is usually flavoured, the plain bread slices that they sometimes purchase for themselves are not. Bread spreads like peanut butter and kaya can help make their snack tastier.

Filling options aside, our beneficiaries also look forward to beverages like coffee and malt drinks for a delicious energy and mood booster.


We’d like hear from you! What are some items that you think would be suitable for our beneficiaries?


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