Launched on 25 April 2016, The Food Pantry, which is located at Sims Avenue, has already garnered much media attention for selling food items that are near expiry date but yet still in good condition for just $1.
Enactus NYP collaborated with Food Bank Singapore on this initiative, which aims to raise awareness of the issue of food wastage. For Jing Guang, the Enactus NYP team leader, helping to bring the project to its fruition meant putting to use the business skills learnt during Enactus’ Accelerator workshops. This was real business, not a paper exercise in theoretical knowledge. “Through secondary research conducted during the Accelerator Program, we were able to better understand the demographics and needs of our customers in the Geylang area.”
Within the store, customer journey mapping was applied to decide how products should be placed at different sections of the store to attract customers. Using tools like needs analysis and the empathy map, the team also came to realise that some low-income households in the area were not used to buying nutritious food items, given that they tend to cost more. To help such customers plan more nutritious meals, the teams bundled such ingredients together to create affordable bundles. Likewise, items with longer shelf-life like canned food were bundled together to target the large number of foreign workers in the area, to provide them with an alternative to the meals usually delivered to them, which are frequently of poor quality.
Working on this project served as a practical lesson for any budding businessman. From linking up with local Resident Committees to draw low-income families to the store, to designing an inventory system to improve productivity, and providing input to decisions on operating hours and the staffing structure, the Enactus NYP team got their hands dirty.
The team had to contend with issues like whether there would be demand in Singapore for food that is near expiry, even though it was decided that the items would cost a token price of $1. The location of the store at Sims Avenue also raised questions over the amount of foot traffic, vis-à-vis if the store were located in the heartlands.
Nonetheless, these concerns were unfounded as the launch of the store was a roaring success, with 80% of the items having sold out within 3 hours of the store’s opening.
For the team at Food Bank Singapore, the Enactus NYP team’s energy and creativity stood out in particular during the collaboration. “It was great to have the young and energetic students working along with the team. They were proactive in giving ideas and were creative in their suggestions on the layout and operations of the pantry,” said Ms Choo Jo-an, Management Associate, Food Bank Singapore.
The Enactus NYP team’s most vivid legacy is found at the storefront. An innovative graffiti infographic with educational messages on the issue of food wastage now greets every customer that walks into the store, helping to raise awareness of this issue.
“We hope that the Food Pantry will continue to serve as a happy place that provides affordable food and joy to the neighbourhood.” — Jing Guang