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DBS, Food Bank creating app to streamline food donations

DBS staff packing food at The Food Bank Singapore warehouse - DBS.JPG
DBS staff packing food at The Food Bank Singapore's warehouse. With the new app, organisations can submit requests to donors in real time.

DBS is partnering The Food Bank Singapore to develop an app that will address food gaps for the vulnerable by facilitating greater coordination and targeted support, it said on Thursday.

The lender is financing development of the food banking app, which is expected to launch in the fourth quarter.

The new app aims to streamline the food donation process by connecting corporate donors, social service agencies, food support organisations and logistics providers on one platform.

Calling the initiative "timely", DBS said the Covid-19 outbreak "is expected to have a prolonged impact on the economy, which would inadvertently weigh on the income of many individuals and families, exacerbating food insecurity".

A sizeable amount of food support tends to be allocated to beneficiaries residing in rental flats, which often results in food being left past its shelf life and thrown away, DBS said.

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On the other hand, households with larger families that need food support - but live in larger flats or have higher per household income - tend to "fall through the cracks", it added.

With the app, organisations will be able to submit requests to donors in real time, while donors can inform them of the type and quantity of food they have on hand. This speeds up the donation of fresh food to those in need, ensures beneficiaries get the right quantity and types of food they need, and reduces extra handling and food waste. 

The app will also cut down some of the "laborious and cumbersome" paperwork involved in food donations, and collect data for analysis to enable agencies to better understand needs on the ground, DBS said.

The Food Bank Singapore co-founder Nichol Ng said that it was tough to address gaps in feeding programmes across agencies without the use of Big Data.

"It is crucial for The Food Bank Singapore to digitalise to increase our efficiency... (and) reduce our reliance on the need for data entry", she said. "The app will be a great starting point to test a circular ecosystem where donors, beneficiary organisations and logistics providers can be looped onto one platform."

DBS is currently engaging its network of corporate clients to come onboard the app as pilot donors, it said.

TreeDots2, a social enterprise supported by the DBS Foundation, will also tap its network of food producers, importers, distributors and food and beverage (F&B) businesses to enhance the supply and predictability of food donations on the app.

Earlier in April, DBS launched a S$10.5 million fund to help communities hit by Covid-19 across the region. For Singapore, it partnered The Food Bank and ground-up initiative ItsRainingRaincoats to provide 700,000 meals to the elderly, low-income individuals and migrant workers.

The meals were procured from its small and medium-sized enterprise clients from 23 F&B outlets, including Koufu, Chang Cheng, Wee Nam Kee and Gao Ji.

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