Foodies rally to patronise ailing elderly hawkers as diners asked to stay home

An elderly hawker couple manning a satay bee hoon stall at ABC Food Centre, as featured on Instagram account @wheretodapao.
An elderly hawker couple manning a satay bee hoon stall at ABC Food Centre, as featured on Instagram account @wheretodapao.

SINGAPORE — Amid Singapore's latest round of COVID-19 restrictions, diners are rallying to support elderly hawkers whose earnings are affected because they're not tech-savvy enough to set up online operations.

Food critic and Makansutra founder K.F. Seetoh, who often speaks up for issues affecting local hawker food vendors, led the charge last week as he wrote on Facebook that such small businesses were suffering as diners were ordered to stay at home. Small-time hawkers were also unable to pay the hefty commission fees charged by food delivery services, so they could not rely on online business.

"A lot of hawkers, and I mean plenty plenty, are not online nor on anything except a prayer and hope. They still sit there with all their food nicely laid out and prettily lit, waiting for the inevitable to happen," said Seetoh.

The food blogger asked people to buy meals and groceries from hawkers and wet market vendors instead of heading to supermarkets, warning that supermarkets were less safe as social distancing is difficult.

"Please patronise these silent sufferers," said Seetoh. "Ignore their cranky ways and just buy and eat back home or in the workplace. They will appreciate deep down inside."

"Look out especially for the less shiny hawkers, those lesser known, unblogged or those you pass by without even thinking or looking at all this while. Help them tide through this one month ahead (I hope only one month) (sic)," Seetoh added.

Instagram account Where To Dapao (@wheretodapao), set up anonymously by a hawker food lover, posts pictures of three food vendors everyday, asking people to give their business to elderly hawkers.

@Wheretodapao wrote in a post about a stall selling popiah and kueh, "We first asked Aunty where her business was affected badly by COVID and she said it was so bad that she had to sell her car just to continue operating her business."

Netizens have responded positively to the initiatives. One commenter on @Wheretodapao wrote, "Thank you for starting this kind initiative! Followed the page, let's do our part to help."

Another wrote on Seetoh's Facebook page, "I normally cook at home in the weekdays (sic) but I will be buying more hawker food in the coming days!"

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