Today, over 6,936 homeless people have registered at Anjung Singgah, which is an initiative by the government to help homeless people, providing them with space and opportunities to live independently and sufficiently. This has significantly ameliorated the quality of living for those who were struggling to find job placements and a roof to shelter them from the storm. In Chow Kit, children who are living off the streets go through immense lengths to provide nourishment to their families and to maintain a sense of hopefulness about life.
Homelessness is a prevalent issue in Malaysia, yet it is not something that is talked of often. Even if it is, it is usually accompanied by a sombre response from the people in the room because the widespread nature of this problem makes it seem like an impossible issue to tackle and improve. With documentaries and articles written about the current vitality of homelessness, awareness is beginning to permeate into the masses and change is starting to come to fruition.
Now, many steps have been taken to improve this situation and to lighten the already heavy burden of those who are bereft of a home. The most recent way of helping the homeless is the ingenious idea of the ‘suspended meal’.
This initiative was first brought to my attention through twitter user, @RaeZalani, who posted a thread about the details of ‘suspended meals’ that include what it is and where to find it.
Help someone yang tak cukup duit nak makan. Share this.#suspendedmeal offer makanan percuma bagi sesiapa yang walk in restaurant dan minta “Suspended Meal” dekat counter
How it works? U guys bayar lebih utk makanan kt kedai tu and org yg memerlukan boleh minta. Free. pic.twitter.com/L7NHLZJ5HT
— Rae Zalani (@RaeZalani) July 14, 2019
In short, ‘suspended meals’ are a way of paying it forward. Customers of selected restaurants can choose to buy an extra meal for the tenant to keep for when a homeless person drops by, asking for any available food. This not only keeps the restaurant’s business afloat but it significantly alters the public’s perception of giving food to the homeless.
There is a visible stigma that hinders Malaysians from actively donating food to the homeless which is the inherent guilt we feel when we see someone begging on the streets. Be it an old woman relying on a cane to provide support or a child made up of only skin and bones, we can’t help but feel that pang of guilt for the clothes on our backs and food in our bellies. This guilt makes us look away in hopes that if we don’t see it, it doesn’t exist.
With suspended meals, it eliminates that debilitating guilt to bring forth an enshrouded motivation which is responsibility. As a member of this society and as a Malaysian, our responsibility to take care of one another shines through and we should seize the opportunity to get off our asses and do something.
As listed above by @RaeZalani, there are multiple locations where you can practice this form of giving back to those in need. Spanning across the country, all Malaysians are able to take part in this initiative which will gradually improve the current homelessness epidemic.
Here are the notable spots mentioned by Rae.
1. Dua by Skohns
A cozy and inviting eatery with excellent reviews for their customer service, Dua by Skohns is resoundingly well-received by frequent visitors of Taman Tun Dr. Ismail. Their menu ranges from your local favourites to your western picks and all items are within an affordable price, making it all the easier to purchase ‘suspended meals’.
2. The Nipah
A modernly designed restaurant with vintage decor and occasional performances, The Nipah is well known for its tasty Malay cuisine and fun atmosphere.
3. Skohns Canteen
A more Western selection when compared to the aforementioned restaurants, Skohns Canteen is reminiscent of a Dave’s Deli type establishment but with a much more affordable menu. This restaurant has incredible reviews on Trip Advisor and Zomato with customers claiming the food served was scrumptious and worth the travel.
4. De Divine Cafe
De’Divine is a unique entry in the thread because in addition to implementing ‘suspended meals’, it is also meant to be a training ground for underprivileged youngsters & high school dropouts to secure practical skills in the F&B sector, working in the kitchen & as part of the service crew here. 100 percent of the proceeds are used to support the youths of our country. The menu includes our traditional nasi lemak as well baked goods.
5. Autism Cafe Project Malaysia
The most wholesome concept to have ever been manifested, the Autism Cafe Project Malaysia embraces this marginalised group by giving them job opportunities within the kitchen and the restaurant. The owner’s son was diagnosed with Autism and he feared his son would never receive the same opportunities as other children hence the opening of this restaurant. Ever since then, this project has remained a success in training Autistic youths and adults to have a full grasp on every day tasks and to be independent.
Despite the all-encompassing mapping of restaurants, there are still gaps here and there within the thread. With that said, here are 2 other spots to purchase a suspended meal.
6. Behind 50
This secluded yet homely cafe that is tucked in the nook of Penang’s famous love lane has been implementing the ‘suspended meal’ concept since the year 2014. Embracing the beauty of antiques and nostalgic mementos, Behind 50 is decorated to appear as if it were a snapshot of the olden days. Not only is this cafe unique in its aesthetic, it is one of the pioneers of ‘suspended meals’ and ‘suspended coffees’. Take it from our JUICE writer, Zian Mei, who wrote about this gem 5 years ago.
7. Chope Food For The Needy
Granted, this technically is not a tangible location you can visit but more of a concept that is designated for hawkers. Similar to Behind 50, Chope Food For The Needy (CFFTN) was birthed in 2014 with the purpose of helping the homeless and the less fortunate. Essentially, CFFTN urges you to approach your favourite hawker and ask the owner of the stall whether or not you can pay for an additional meal to be given to the needy. Most times, hawkers are aware of this movement because they encounter the needy every day. With this, it helps their business in addition to helping those who are unable to buy their own meals.
To conclude, Malaysians are becoming more aware and responsive towards our communities’ hidden plights. It is reinvigorating to know that we are less focused on frivolous news and more in-tune with the issues that are slowly exacerbating the state of our country. It is better late than never, and now that we are awake, it is crucial to continue to alert the others of the ways we can contribute for the greater good.
Notify your favourite restaurants of the ‘suspended meal’ movement so we can catalyse a shift in our fight against the oppression of the homeless. Let them know of the simple ways in which they can help not only their business but also the people who are unable to afford their services. With the power of social media, more establishments can practice ‘suspended meals’ and gradually, we won’t see children hungry on the streets ever again, maybe then, can we finally achieve our coveted Wawasan 2020.
Main Image: Kechara Soup Kitchen