Zheng Libin and her husband were inspired to do something for frontline workers after they learnt that an ambulance driver was allegedly turned away from a food stall, over fears of the coronavirus (Covid-19).
Speaking to Mothership, Zheng shared that since they are running a catering service, they can at least help to ensure these frontline staff will not work with an empty stomach.
"We thought it is important for these medical staff to still have food, be it those deployed outside or inside hospitals. Especially now, all our healthcare staff are all busy taking care of patients/ ferrying suspected cases and will have almost no time for lunch/ dinner breaks. So maybe if we can just send them some food packs, it would help them get some rest and munch between shifts."
Zheng said that they have reached out to various hospitals, including Tan Tock Seng Hospital and the National Centre of Infectious Diseases, but the hospitals did not get back to them in time on whether meal donations are accepted.
Having said that, Zheng understands that Raffles Hospital also experienced an increase in the volume of cases due to a "spillover effect" from other hospitals.
Delivering free bento sets to Raffles Hospital staff
And that's how the couple who have been married for over 10 years spent their Valentine's Day together this year — going back and forth Raffles Hospital to deliver sealed bento sets to the healthcare workers.
The couple has been doing this since the start of this week (Feb. 10).
They deliver 352 lunch sets and 137 dinner sets to the hospital daily through a friend who works at the hospital.
The dishes were different throughout the week, despite Zheng telling us that the menu was "put together rather hurriedly".
She said that the kitchen team tried to ensure variety, based on the ingredients they have.
If you are curious, here's the menu that they have prepared for the healthcare workers in the past week:
Monday Lunch - Baked Black pepper chicken chop w/ Aglio Olio
Monday Dinner - Nasi Goreng w/ Satay Goreng chicken
Tuesday Lunch - Fried Char Kway Teow
Tuesday Dinner - Nasi Briyanni w/ Chicken Masala and Achar
Wednesday Lunch - Fried dry laksa
Wednesday Dinner - Yangzhou fried rice w/ Fishballs
Thurs Lunch - Mee Goreng w/ Fried Egg
Thurs Dinner - Nasi Goreng w/ Satay Goreng chicken
Friday Lunch - Fried Beehoon w/ Luo Han Zai
Friday Dinner - Nasi Briyanni w/ Chicken Masala and Achar
Zheng added that she's glad that the entire team is supportive of the initiative, and has contributed in different ways to make the project possible.
Here are some happy faces of Raffles Hospital staff with their bentos:
Business has taken a hit from Covid-19 situation
When asked about the impact of Covid-19 on their business, Zheng shared that the new orders have dropped by a whopping 80 per cent ,and the company has also faced several cancellations.
"Customers [planned to have] BBQ at chalets like Pasir Ris, Changi, all had to cancel their order as these venues were designated as quarantine centres. We allowed them to cancel also because we share their concerns on the virus outbreak. Many are our past customers and friends."
In the first few days of DORSCON Orange, the duo was suffering losses even and they had made internal arrangements to cope with the situation, such as reducing the number of part-timers.
But the duo was not entirely demoralised, and hopes to create some positivity within the team by serving the frontline workers together.
"Nobody's having it easy. But it doesn't mean we can't make the situations easier," Zheng said.
You can contact them if you wish to support this project in any ways.
And here's a really sweet post dedicated to Zheng by her husband:
Top photos courtesy of Zheng Libin