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COMPANY OF GOOD

Kitchen skills for inmates and meals for the needy - the Samsui way

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Head chef Lee Cheok Kwang working with an inmate. The production kitchen is aiming to prepare up to 6,000 meals a day.

Singapore

EX-OFFENDERS often have to face many challenges upon returning to society, including finding employment. With the establishment of a new 408 sq m central kitchen within Singapore Changi Prison Complex on Oct 13, inmates now have the opportunity to learn skills that will enhance their employability after their release.

Ang Kian Peng, director of Samsui Supplies and Services, says: "In training the inmates in kitchen operations and providing employment offers, we hope to equip them with a useful skill and trade."

Since 2013, Samsui has served an estimated 500,000 meals to beneficiaries of nursing homes and non-profit organisations such as Touch Community Services, Salvation Army and Peacehaven Nursing Home.

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To cater to the increasing demand, the production kitchen is working towards preparing up to 6,000 meals daily and delivering an estimated 1.8 million meals annually.

This initiative was borne out of Samsui's hopes of expanding their capacity for providing quality meals, as well as enhancing the lives of inmates with purposeful work.

With the support of Singapore Corporation of Rehabilitative Enterprises (Score), 30 inmates have been selected and trained in food-hygiene practices, food preparation and operation of kitchen equipment.

To encourage their rehabilitation, training courses will be conducted and inmates awarded certificates of achievement at the end of their stint.

In line with their Silver Lining programme that hopes to touch the lives of the elderly in Singapore, Standard Chartered Bank has pledged S$200,000 towards the central kitchen project and plans to deploy volunteers to assist with the meal deliveries.

Beyond rehabilitation, the partnership is also about equipping inmates with the skills needed for societal reintegration and Samsui will be offering inmates opportunities to become employees at its restaurants and kitchens.

Kavin Seow, senior director, Elderly Group, Touch Community Services, says: "We are encouraged by Samsui's corporate social responsibility efforts in helping not only the frail elderly, but also other needy individuals."

In time, Samsui hopes to expand the facilities within the prison complex to benefit more non-profit organisations and inmates.

As one inmate beneficiary says: "I am grateful for the opportunity to train in the workshop. This has enabled me to pick up skills in kitchen operations which will help me find a job when I am released."

  • The writer is from the National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC). For collaborations and partnerships, please contact Ang Kian Peng, director of Samsui at ang.kp@samsui.com.sg.
  • This article demonstrates the larger impact that companies create through forging strategic partnerships. The Business Times supports NVPC's Company of Good programme as a media partner. For more information, go to www.companyofgood.sg
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