Home Kenchara Soup Kitchen Lifestyle New Premises In Central KL Urgently Needed For Food Bank And Community Aid Services
Home Kenchara Soup Kitchen Lifestyle New Premises In Central KL Urgently Needed For Food Bank And Community Aid Services

New Premises In Central KL Urgently Needed For Food Bank And Community Aid Services

Kechara Soup Kitchen appeals for financial assistance, aims to serve more people as needs grow

Empowerment - Trainees producing cookies under guidance from trainer

Kechara Soup Kitchen (KSK) is appealing for a new premise in central Kuala Lumpur to expand its community service operations as its internal reviews point towards the increase of people in need of aid.

The non-profit organisation, one of the largest and oldest soup kitchens in Malaysia, has been providing food and basic sustenance for the homeless and underprivileged community in Malaysia for the past 14 years.

“We are operating from two premises at the moment. Our current office in Jalan Imbi, Kuala Lumpur has been used as a Soup Kitchen providing free food, clinic and welfare assistance since 2009. Meanwhile, our Food Bank Empowerment training programmes centre at Setapak will end by August 2023. We are looking to consolidate these operations into one,” said Kechara Soup Kitchen Director of Operations, Justin Cheah.

Empowerment - Training - Baking

“An unused location in central Kuala Lumpur, for example in Chow Kit or Petaling Street would be ideal,” said Cheah, who explained that KSK serves people regardless of their race, religion, culture or background.

KSK is estimating that it would require a space of around 10,000 sqft to cater to the needs of the underserved communities which have ballooned since the pandemic. “The new premises should enable us to operate sustainably into the next 10 years,” he added.

In recent years KSK has strategically expanded its focus on the most vulnerable poor. This has manifested in KSK's Food Bank and Empowerment programs which support various segments of the community, before they fall into extreme poverty and hardship.

Since 2008, KSK has served over 1.3 million hot meals through its Soup Kitchen programme, redistributed over 2.9 million kilograms of food products to the poor and underprivileged communities living in PPR flats, and community shelter homes such as orphanages, old folks homes, rehabilitation centres, and centres for the disabled. Its Empowerment programme has reskilled 132 individuals who had no prior source of income, placed 390 people into jobs, and attended to more than 11,000 medical cases.

Food Bank - the Orang Asli community in Baling, Kedah

A Central Location: Accessibility For All
KSK believes it can raise its impact many more times with a building site in central KL - making it accessible for the homeless and urban poor to access meals, classes and many other forms of welfare aid.

“Those requiring basic needs assistance have been growing, not just within Kuala Lumpur, but across the country. The government recently announced that the B40 gap has widened, as inflation hit an all-time high. On top of this, we see the need to cater to a sudden influx of people needing attention as unpredictable weather changes have also caused floods and disrupted livelihoods, Cheah explained.

Justin Cheah in the old food bank store

“KSK needs to have a big warehouse - adequate to receive food donations in bulk. In addition to benefits in terms of logistics, a larger space will give us better lead time to clear supplies efficiently, or hold certain supplies for a longer period. Being in the heart of the city also makes it convenient for organisations and individuals to offer their donations and assistance,” said Cheah.

With adequate space, KSK will be able to convince more established food manufacturers to channel their near expiry products here and work together towards reducing wastage.

“The new building also means we can provide more services such as financial literacy, and counselling services, while giving us extra room to conduct more client cases,” Cheah said.

A Current Shortfall: Closing the Gap
“Truth be told, the number of regular funders and the amount streaming in since post-COVID has dropped significantly,” said Cheah.

Additionally, operating expenses have gone up with the rising cost of food and supplies. KSK is at a 20% shortfall currently and needs to urgently close this gap.

“We rely on donations and contributions, and this has been shrinking post-pandemic. We are currently using our own savings to ensure the organisation continues to do its good work. It’s especially tough, we see the growing need all around us,” he said.

Vivian speaking to an urban poor client

“The soup kitchen runs daily, from Mondays to Saturdays, providing a well-balanced meal for some who would have this as the only meal for the whole day,” said Vivian Ong.

“What we encounter on the streets is stark – those who have been abandoned, or homeless, are in a state of despair. This can only be repaired by the heart and hands of many, consistently,” Cheah said, explaining that KSK has served 23,000 homeless clients since its inception.

In addition to the soup kitchen, KSK distributes dry provisions worth RM150 per month per family, and today, this amount is simply not sufficient. The increasing cost of daily raw materials and supply chain disruption have put many families in a tight spot.

A leading light
Given its 15-year track record in effective programme management, KSK founders and leaders have been invited on numerous occasions to present its best practices at local and international forums – allowing many other NGOs and soup kitchens to model its systems and processes, as well as improve their learnings.

“We would like to appeal to corporate and individual donors to join hands with us to do good - and to do it sustainably, as we serve more people,” said Cheah, elaborating that KSK’s annual report is now published on its website.

KSK would like to appeal for the public’s kind support for it to continue assisting communities effectively. KSK is also on the lookout for more staff – including case managers, regular volunteers, and long-term corporate partners.

Over 25,000 volunteers have stepped forward to assist at KSK, with many finding it a life-changing experience.

For further information or to donate and contribute, please contact KSK at +6010 3333 260.

Donors and contributors who wish to stay updated on KSK’s activities, read its annual report and impact stories, can go to:

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