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Photograph: @wheretodapao / Instagram

How to support heritage and elderly hawkers during this period

Three local initiatives that help shine the spotlight on these businesses
Written by
Fabian Loo

With dining out limitations enforced (once again) during this period of heightened alert, restaurants, eateries, and even hawkers all around Singapore are now turning their attention online, offering deliveries and takeaways services to tide business through during this trying period.

But a group of people, not found on delivery platforms and social media groups, require our patronage and support as well. Elderly hawkers, who often aren’t as technically savvy, are facing an uncertain future. They lack the know-how to market themselves or get onboard onto delivery platforms, and are left to rely solely on the near-zero footfall to make ends meet.

Singapore food critic K.F. Seetoh implored Singaporeans to support and patronise these “silent sufferers” in a recent Facebook post. He said: “They still sit there with all their food nicely laid out and prettily lit, waiting for the inevitable to happen. Permeant closure.”

Thankfully, at least three local initiates have stepped up to help shine the spotlight on these elderly hawkers, in hopes of encouraging more to get their take-out meals from such businesses. 

1. @wheretodapao

This Instagram page offers take-away inspiration from elderly hawkers around Singapore. As the crowds hunker down at home, once-bustling Hawker centres are left empty and cold. So to help these old-school businesses join the online chatter, @wheretodapao aims to go around various hawker centres to spotlight all these traditional hawker stalls.

To date, some businesses that the page has spoken to include:

An aunty that runs a 70-year-old Hainanese Curry Rice stall at Maxwell Food Centre (“Aunty said that she’ll only go home after all her food has been sold out”).

And a hardworking satay stall owner at ABC Brickworks Market and Food Centre who powers through despite her weak knees (“due to long hours of standing and cooking, she has Salonpas on both her knees”).

@wheretodapao is currently crowdsourcing for stories as well. Those with a heritage hawker in mind can snap a photo of the business, strike up a conversation with the owner (perfect excuse to get to know them better!), and send it over to have it featured on the page.

2. @savetheelderlyhawkers

Recent news of illiterate hawkers struggling to survive during this stay-home period spurred two friends to kickstart @savetheelderlyhawkers. To help raise awareness for these brick-and-mortar businesses, the page seeks to crowdsource information, or ‘listings’ from fellow Singaporeans.

In one of the posts, an uncle selling lor mee at Circuit Road Hawker Centre shared with @savetheelderlyhawkers that he wasn’t on any delivery platforms because “he didn’t know English” and it was “a hassle to manage the machines”.

Have an elderly hawker stall you know? Drop the page a DM and include the name, address, a short description, and a picture. 

3. @wejiaklocal

We Jiak Local is a crowdsourced platform that aggregates the reviews and shoutouts given to local F&B businesses – especially for those without a digital presence – and post them on the website.

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A post shared by We jiak local (@wejiaklocal)

Each collection then goes towards building a growing and comprehensive directory that showcases all the businesses in Singapore – segmented conveniently via neighbourhoods.

Help give any heritage hawkers you know a shoutout by dropping @wejiaklocal a DM on Instagram, complete with a picture of the stall, the food, and what you love most about the food served.

Read more
- #Savefnbsg: The ultimate guide to delivery and takeaway options in Singapore
- Hawker Spotlight series

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