Sharing the cost of feeding needy


LOVE is what you need to run a charity home, but that’s not all, as the residents have to eat as well.

“It costs RM15 to feed a person every day,” said Sathya Sai Baba Central Council of Malaysia president Mahendran Arumugam.

“Food can take up 50% to 60% of a home’s operating costs. Every month, we need RM15,000 to feed 120 people,” said PJ Caring Home operations manager Uthaya Perumal.

Children’s homes, institutions for the mentally ill, support groups for single mothers and handicapped children have one thing in common — they all need funds for food.

A corporate social responsibility initiative by a canned and frozen foods manufacturer is hoping to reduce some of that burden.

At the launch of Rex Feeds Homes, Rex Industry Bhd group managing director Darmendran Kunaretnam pledged to donate some RM200,000 worth of canned tuna, baked beans, sardines and juices to 50 homes.

“We have more than 100 SKUs (stock-keeping units) but we have chosen things that are relevant to them,” explained Darmendran.

He guaranteed the donations would be fresh from the factory production line and not from the expired items bin.

The amount of food given will be distributed monthly and based on the number of residents with estimations on how much will be consumed per meal for one day of the week.

He said to ensure the gifts were appreciated, the recipients would have to provide the corporation with their profiles and source of funding, upload photos of the food every time it was consumed and allow Rex and its partner representatives to make unannounced visits to gather feedback from residents.

These stipulations were set by Darmendran to ensure the donations went to the right channels.

A regular patron of charity, he recalled from past experience how a delivery of roast chicken and ice cream to a boys’ home ended up at the caretaker’s house instead of going to the intended recipients.

“I stopped going there after that,” he said.

Answering critics who feel that such homes would benefit more from tutorial sessions instead of food, Darmendran simply said those with well-stocked larders should make way for those who need to fill theirs.

“I tell my team, ‘Even if we get three homes, let’s do it.’ What matters most is the money is well spent and the residents of the home are well-fed.

“No point in getting 300 homes but only have 30 appreciating our food,” he said.

He said it was ironic that 1.3 billion tonnes of food was wasted every year while 795 million people suffered malnourishment.

The distribution of the canned food will start on Jan 1 and 15 homes have been verified for the programme so far.

In tandem with the home feeding programme is the Love Rex Fund, where 10sen from the sale of every product with the Love Rex emblem will go to a fund to provide aid to disaster victims.

If all goes well, 50% of the fund will also be used to support the home feeding programme.

“On the conservative side, we hope to raise RM250,000 for the fund. Size is not important. We believe in taking small steps. Slow, but steady,” said Darmendran.

Rex will be giving more focus on the international arena in 2016, setting its targets for the Middle East and African nations.

Still in the assessment process, Dubai and Sharjah have been picked as possible operating locations. This investment is expected to run into the millions with no cash calls or bank borrowings.

“The trading environment is going to be rough but our team is going to make it a good 2016,” said Darmendran.

Source: Thestar