Text by: Claudia Sondakh
Food wastage is something I hold close to my heart. During my internship days at the Capella Hotel kitchen, one of my head chefs, Chef David, told me this that has stuck with me since, “You fill your fridge to eat, not to throw away.” From that day, I became more aware of just how much food we waste. It challenged me to think twice before throwing something away.
To me, Plentyfull has always been about bringing eating well back by treating the land, farmer, chef, server and guest with care and respect. We wish to serve others well and give back to our community.
One day, I read about Chef Mossimo Bottura’s non-profit organization called Food for Soul. It is a non-profit organization founded by himself and Lara Gilmore to empower communities to fight food waste through social inclusion. This social inclusion is done by “sharing a meal while sitting around the same table… Meals are cooked with quality ingredients, plated carefully and served to our guests by a dedicated team of volunteers. Tableware is chosen specifically to create a welcoming environment where guests can enjoy their meal and socialize, and where the local community can rediscover the beauty and warmth of hospitality.”
I thought it was such a genius idea and a wonderful cause that I wanted something like this to exist in Singapore. Reading Food for Soul’s values, I felt we were speaking the same language. A big reason for starting Plentyfull was to bring restoration back into food and hospitality. What does it mean to serve others well? What impact does a meal shared with people have on each other? Can we nourish mind, body and spirit?
I asked my head chef, Victor, if he knew of any organization that would want to explore pioneering this idea in Singapore with us and he put me in touch with Nichol, founder of the Food Bank Singapore (FBSG). It didn’t take long to come to the conclusion that Nichol and I were on the same page wanting to do the same thing at the same time. From that chat, we quickly got the ball rolling and here we are launching the One-Dish@A-Time campaign.
The One-Dish@A-Time campaign aims to encourage consumers to have a meal made from ugly and donated food from FBSG to raise funds for feeding the needy, as well as heighten awareness of the food insecurity situation in Singapore. The campaign involves getting restaurants to create unique daily specials using imperfect and frequently discarded products. Part of the proceeds from these meals will go to FBSG to support the end hunger movement.
According to a Lien Centre for Social Innovation study, food insecurity can affect as high as 27 percent of the population in Singapore. That is more than a quarter of the population, which is a staggering and surprisingly high number in a first world country like Singapore.
Plentyfull is working with FBSG to take its ugly and overstocked produce and show people that with a little imagination and lots of love, you can create extraordinary dishes from ordinary ingredients that everyone can enjoy. Through this initiative, we hope to educate people on the growing severity of food insecurity, and to be more mindful of the resources we are blessed with and how we can use them. We also hope to make this an ongoing, long-term partnership with FBSG.
We are honoured and thankful that Nichol and her team trusted us to be the first restaurant to launch this campaign with them. My team and I went into this purely to give back to the community but we are thrilled that it has picked up more attention than we expected.
I can confidently say that with every Food Bank Special you order, you are not only restoring your body but also your soul knowing that you played a part in making someone’s life better and in some way, breaking bread together.