Singapore, 25 March 2022 (Friday) – Households in Singapore improved on their food security status over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, with about 20% of these previously food-insecure households now deemed food secure. This was amongst the key findings unveiled in a new study by SMU’s Lien Centre for Social Innovation (LCSI), “The Hunger Report Part II: Targeting Specific Needs in the Wake of COVID-19”, which explored the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on food situation of previously identified food-insecure households.
Food insecurity is defined as a state when a household does not have or is not confident of having, economic and physical access to sufficient, acceptable food for a healthy life.
Commissioned by The Food Bank Singapore (FBSG), and supported by Tolaram, the study provides an update of “The Hunger Report”, a nationally representative study published in 2020 that explored the issue of food insecurity in Singapore. Despite Singapore being ranked as being the most food-secure nation in the world, The Hunger Report found that 10.4% of the 1,200 surveyed households experienced food insecurity at least once in the last 12 months at the time of the survey’s completion.
“The Hunger Report Part II” is the first intervention study of its kind in Singapore, delving into how the food situation of previously identified food-insecure households has been impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of 145 households that were identified as food insecure in The Hunger Report were contacted in January 2021. Of these 145 food-insecure households, 59 participated in the current study between January and October 2021. Through surveys with these 59 participants, the study determined the impact of the pandemic, given the unprecedented changes brought about by COVID-19 on livelihoods and access to food.
Significantly, the authors of this study also sought to put into action the recommendation made in the original report, about tackling the misalignment of food support services, through an intervention. This came in the form of administering a Needs Toolkit to understand the unique needs and preferences of each food-insecure household. The authors then explored the impact of autonomy in food support through an intervention element by providing relevant and appropriate food support for a period of two months.
According to Nichol Ng, Co-founder, The Food Bank Singapore, “Seeing how the pandemic has swept the world by storm, we decided in 2020 to follow up closely with The Hunger Report Part II to better understand how mindsets and needs have shifted in the midst of this crisis. The findings from this report have validated The Food Bank Singapore’s on-the-ground sentiments that in a time of chaos and crisis, people seek comfort in consuming what they prefer. Through these times, they still wish to be accorded the respect to be able to make their own choices. Not only is there a need for food, but also for other essentials such as personal care and household products. The Food Bank Singapore is also deeply concerned with the recent steep escalation of costs exacerbated by the war, and the impact it has on those already facing food insecurity during the pandemic. Innovative solutions are required in our mission to expedite the aid needed.”
“This report is timely as we navigate and transition towards endemic living with COVID-19. With the increase of support on the ground during the course of the pandemic and the circuit breaker period especially, over 20% of previously identified food-insecure households are now food secure. However, we must also focus on the 10.2% of households who have worsened in their food security status. Access to food is a basic physiological need and if we can infuse innovations in the food support ecosystem while respecting values such as dignity and autonomy, we can magnify positive social change.” said Dr Dalvin Sidhu, Programme Manager, Lien Centre for Social Innovation.
“Tolaram believes that every business must serve society. It is necessary that we act and contribute to improving the well-being of communities where we are present. We are pleased to support The Food Bank Singapore and its partners to identify ways to help food-insecure households access choices that address their individual needs to uplift lives,” added Deepak Singhal, Managing Director Consumer Business, Tolaram.
Full details of the report can be accessed here.
Key findings and recommendations:
1. Improved Food Security Status of Food-Insecure Families
2. Food Insecurity and Children in the Household
3. The Value of Autonomy in Food Support
Based on these findings listed, LCSI recommends the following actions to bring about positive and sustainable change in the food support ecosystem in Singapore:
1. Need for Autonomy in Singapore’s Food Support Model
2. Partnerships in the Food Support Ecosystem