Club comes to table as virus takes toll on poor

Local | Erin Chan 16 Sep 2020

Some 70,000 needy people are expected to benefit from a HK$240 million food assistance program launched by the Hong Kong Jockey Club, offering food supplies to those financially affected by the pandemic.

In collaboration with six NGOs, the program will offer support for people who are unemployed or underemployed.

To be eligible, they also cannot be recipients of Comprehensive Social Security Assistance or other food assistance after February 1.

The program consists of four kinds of support, including an automated food dispenser, hot meal service, food pack service and food express service.

The automated food dispenser targets those who work irregular hours and require longer-term support. It will offer one microwave meal box per day to targeted groups for up to a year.

Eligible individuals will be able to use a QR code on their membership cards to pick up their meals from the dispensers.

Meanwhile, the hot meal service targets those who require longer-term support and will provide one hot meal box on five days a week for up to a year.

The food pack service is for those who are able to cook or have dietary restrictions. The service provides groceries and two meals per day for up to eight weeks.

As for the food express service, it aims to offer meals to those who are homebound or cannot cook at home.

To be eligible for the automated food dispenser or hot meal services, the average monthly household income of the applicant must be at or below 55 percent of the median household income.

And for the food pack and food express services, the applicant's income must be between 56 and 75 percent of median household income.

Jockey club chief executive Winifred Engelbrecht-Bresges said the program is also here to provide a sense of dignity and hope to those facing hardship.

Josephine Lee Yuk-chi, head of St James' Settlement - one of the partnering NGOs - said they have seen a 50 percent increase in people claiming food supplies since the pandemic.

"Our beneficiaries include those who lost their jobs, switched to a part-time job or mothers who stopped working as they have to take care of their children who are now not in school," she said.

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