Doing good with food: Delivery service to support hawker and private car hire communities
The food delivery service offered NUS students living on campus more food options while supporting the hawker and private car hire communities
Some 35 hawker stalls, nine standalone food outlets and 11 private hire car drivers have benefitted from a food delivery solution initiated by students from the NUS College of Alice and Peter Tan (CAPT) and Chua Thian Poh Community Leadership Centre (CTPCLC).
The delivery service, which was piloted in CAPT from 9 April to 8 May 2020, offered CAPT residents greater food options during the circuit breaker period while supporting the hawker and private car hire communities whose income have been impacted by COVID-19.
Year 3 NUS Arts and Social Sciences student Donovan Liew who led the project with the help of a group of CAPT and CTPCLC students shared that the idea germinated from a discussion on how non-essential travel by students living on NUS campus can be minimised during circuit breaker, and the potential impact of the circuit breaker on hawkers.
“The parents of some of our friends are hawkers themselves, and their stories egged us on to do our bit no matter how small it may be. This was how we started our food delivery service,” he said.
The team linked up with various hawkers to prepare bulk orders collated through a Telegram channel within the CAPT residential community. They also partnered private hire car drivers to deliver the orders.
Unlike most other food delivery services, the team did not draw any commission from the hawkers and the private hire car drivers, enabling them to maximise their income during this trying period. “We are providing a low-cost solution to support local hawkers and drivers who may be deterred by the high commission rates of food delivery apps, or are not tech savvy enough to be on board these apps,” Donovan explained.
“Our bulk order system also allows students to patronise different hawker stalls at one go without any minimum order, and paying only a small one-time service and delivery fee shared amongst students. In this way, we can fulfil students’ need for a wider range of food options beyond UTown while reducing non-essential movement,” he added.
Over 1,500 meals were delivered during the pilot run at CAPT, covering 35 stalls across eight hawker centres, and nine standalone food outlets.
Year 3 NUS Science student and CAPT resident Benjamin Fong, who worked closely with Donovan on the food delivery project, shared his experience. “It was really a leap of courage as we did not have the expertise of running a project like this, coupled with its fair share of challenges due to the circuit breaker measures. We are grateful for the help we have received from our fellow schoolmates and the hawkers as we would not have made it this far without their tremendous support. We hope that our collective efforts have made this period a little more tolerable for our hawker and private hire car drivers,” he said.
The experience was also an eye-opener for international exchange student Jet Hartman from the Netherlands, who had learned more about the hawker culture in Singapore through her involvement in the project under CTPCLC. She said, “I was really excited and impressed when I first encountered a hawker centre in Singapore, the variety of food choices is incredible. My interactions with the hawkers during my time in Singapore was also very positive, and having a chance to help them out during this difficult time was definitely worth it.”
The food delivery service, newly dubbed Hawkerjio, has been extended to residents in Cinnamon and Tembusu Colleges. The team has moved the order system from Telegram to a website, and is working towards making ordering and payment processes more seamless and automated to generate a steadier stream of business for the hawkers and private hire car drivers. It is also exploring possible collaborations with like-minded organisations to further support the hawker and private car hire communities post circuit breaker.