The affordable prices at our hawker centres and coffeeshops are a big reason we frequent them for our daily eats. Over the years, however, thanks to a combination of factors — rising rent, inflation and supply chain disruptions — the line between more upscale restaurant prices and our beloved cheap meals is blurring.
To alleviate this problem, the government recently rolled out a scheme dubbed the ‘Great Budget Meal Hunt‘, to help Singaporeans find and share details of cheap coffeeshop eats.
In the span of over a week, the programme has gathered over 245 recommendations and 319 verifications at 91 coffeeshops. To contribute, citizens and Permanent Residents over the age of 18 that have a SingPass account can access CrowdtaskSG, a government crowdsourcing Web portal.
Submissions should be priced between S$3 and S$3.50 and are to be full meals, not side dishes, snacks, children’s meals or half-portioned meals. Verifications can also be done to earn virtual stars that unlock challenges and unique badges.
According to the Straits Times, this pilot scheme is specifically aimed toward increasing the availability of affordable food options in HDB estates, as shared by Senior Minister of State for National Development and Foreign Affairs Sim Ann. This was done during a motion calling on the Government to review policies to lower cost-of-living pressures on Singaporean families.
114 HDB rental coffeeshops currently offer budget meals and drinks. The number will reach 374 by 2026 but this does not extend to privately owned coffeeshops. She asked if the government would consider regulatory options to require budget meals at these coffeeshops.
Other MPs also raised concerns over the rising costs of cooked food and groceries. Mr Xie Yao Quan of Jurong GRC pointed out that egg and chicken prices have climbed almost 40% since Jul 2021, and Non-Constituency MP Leong Mun Wai made a direct reference to Singapore’s largest supermarket chain: “Food prices have surged because NTUC FairPrice stood by instead of doing more.”
In these trying times, maybe it’s time to come out with that coffeeshop stall you’ve been gatekeeping for years.
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