A beneficiary of the food programme, run by Catholic Welfare Services and Church of the Sacred Heart, holding his lunch which he received from the volunteers.

Catholic Welfare Services (CWS) and the Church of the Sacred Heart have partnered to provide free daily meals to the poor.

The parish had already been providing free meals to the poor every Sunday since 2007. Since May this year, CWS joined this initiative, known as “Doulos”. The Greek word means “slave” or one who gives himself to another in the service of Christ.

The partnership enables the food programme to be provided on a daily basis from 11 am to noon, except on Sundays when it is offered from 10.30 am to noon. About 130 to 150 trays of food are served from Mondays to Saturdays and 230 to 250 trays on Sundays.

Each meal includes rice, meat and vegetables. Drinks such as coffee are also provided.

The parish has also started to give bread to those who come as early as 9 am to wait for their meal.

Recipients, who come from all over the island, say they are grateful for the initiative as it provides them some financial relief.

“[The church] has gone a long way to help. I won’t forget what the church is doing,” said Mr Chua, a recipient who lives in Yishun.

The unemployed 62-year-old said he is happy that the church is looking after the poor.

“The food here is the best,” said Mr Chua, who comes daily for the free meal.

Retiree Madam Loh echoed Mr Chua’s views.

The 65-year-old, who depends on pocket money from her children, said the Church-run programme helps her financially, and added that the “church has been good” to people like her.

However, another recipient, Mr Lim, 42, who is unemployed, said that while the meals may offer temporary financial relief, the church may not be able to help poor people all their lives.

Speaking to CatholicNews, CWS executive director James Chew said his organisation sees the programme as a “good way to reach out to the poor”.

The parish and CWS decided to pool their resources so that more poor people can have at least one decent meal a day.

CWS is funding half of the costs for a year. It is also hoped that the programme could later offer two meals a day.

Mr Chew said that to ensure that the Doulos initiative is not abused, recipients are screened beforehand.

Beneficiaries include the elderly, the homeless, and those in their 40s and 50s who are suffering from medical conditions and are unemployed.

CWS also stations a social worker once a week at the parish to help those who need further assistance.

Senior social worker Karl Koh said that this include counselling, needs assessment and case management, job search and placement, and helping homeless people find accommodation.

By Darren Boon
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