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LCQ12: Short-term food assistance

     Following is a question by the Hon Wong Sing-chi and a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, in the Legislative Council today (March 4):


     It has been reported that some food banks operated by non-governmental organisations have recently indicated that the number of people receiving short-term food assistance in 2008 had increased sharply by 7,000 as compared with that in 2007.  On the other hand, when attending the Question and Answer Session of this Council on January 15, the Chief Executive said that waves of layoffs and business closures might appear after the Lunar New Year.  Given that such a situation may result in an increase in the demand for short-term food assistance, will the Government inform this Council whether it knows:

(a)  the number of people for whom the food banks in each District Council district had provided services in the past three years; and

(b)  the number of people receiving food bank services in each of the past three years, with a breakdown of the number by the age groups of the recipients, their types of occupation, monthly salaries and districts of residence?



(a) & (b)  All along, there are local and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the community providing temporary in-kind food assistance to individuals and families in need.  As this is not a government-subvented service and NGOs and organisations do not have to apply to, or register with, the Government when they provide short-term food assistance to those in need through their own resources, the Social Welfare Department (SWD) does not have information on the number of service users as well as their age profiles, monthly salaries and districts of residence in the past three years.

     To relieve the pressure on the poor, the Chief Executive announced in July last year that $100 million would be earmarked for SWD to work with NGOs to offer additional food assistance.  While preparing for the implementation of the service projects, SWD allocated a total of $3.84 million to St. James' Settlement and Kwun Tong Methodist Social Service to strengthen their existing provision of food assistance, which provided assistance to a total of 15,452 service users during the period from August 2008 to end-January 2009.  The Government will closely monitor the utilisation of the five short-term food assistance service projects, at a total cost of $100 million, being implemented throughout the whole territory.

Ends/Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Issued at HKT 14:28


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