Community & Service 29 Aug 2022

A quest towards zero hunger

By Shriya S
Photograph by Shriya S

It was 8am on a Saturday and I jumped out of bed, excited to begin my adventure at Willing Hearts. Willing Hearts is a charity soup kitchen run entirely by volunteers. It prepares, cooks and serves more than 11,000 daily meals to over 70 locations in Singapore to the aged, disabled, low-income families, children from single-parent or impoverished households, and migrant workers in Singapore. We were given this meaningful opportunity to support the charity through the Singapore Cricket Club.

We reached there after signing in and were greeted by the lovely smell of freshly cooked food and that motivated us to go straight to the source of the fantastic aroma. After arriving at the packing area, it was mandatory to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), which included aprons, a hairnet and a pair of gloves, to ensure high standards of hygiene. My mother and I put the PPE on, eager to get started.

1_shriya.jpg?mtime=20220829144226#asset:41606Shriya at the entrance of Willing Hearts.

My first duty was to pack rice into containers. At first, I found this a bit tricky as the rice was steaming hot and the proportions had to be just right. I kept at it and started to get the hang of it. Sure enough, when we reached the end of packing, I learnt a new skill and was quite proficient in putting the rice strategically into the containers to avoid food wastage and over-serving.

After that, my mother suggested that we make our way to the “vegetable area” where volunteers were washing, peeling, cutting and sorting through vegetables. We found an empty spot, grabbed the carrots and started peeling. It was not long after that we decided to play a little game to see who could peel carrots the fastest, and let’s just say it was a tie. I was having so much fun that I didn’t even realise three hours had gone by!

2_shriya.jpg?mtime=20220829144418#asset:41607Peeling carrots proved to be really fun.

Reflecting on my experience, I truly appreciate the many fascinating aspects about Willing Hearts, and how it work towards one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals — zero hunger. Volunteers at Willing Hearts put in a lot of time and effort to make sure the food they prepare is healthy and nourishing. They also make sure that the quantity of food is just the right amount, thereby encouraging sustainability. They minimise food waste by making sure every last bit of food that has been produced is used for the meals. The organisation also serves as a collection point for food donations from organisations and individuals.

In addition to providing food, Willing Hearts also provides trauma-related services, dentistry, traditional Chinese medicine treatments, and optical care, which guide beneficiaries towards rehabilitating and reinstating themselves as useful members of society.

I left Willing Hearts that day inspired and thrilled to have done my little part to help this organisation and its noble cause. I realised that no matter who you are or what level of skill you have, you can always do your bit to help a good cause. I would say that my biggest takeaway from this experience is to never feel too shy to take action for things I believe in and to always help when I can.