SINGAPORE - Residents can search for budget meals at coffee shops near their home via a new website.
The BudgetMealGoWhere website, launched by HDB and the Government Technology Agency on Friday, allows residents to key in their postal code and look for cheaper meals and drinks options within 2 km of their location.
Users can also access it via the LifeSG app, a platform that consolidates digital government services and information.
These budget meal options include full meals that cost between $3 and $3.50, together with hot drink options priced at $1 to $1.50 on average. The meals are not set at specific prices, as stall operators are encouraged to offer meals at competitive prices to match those of other options in the vicinity.
In March 2023, Senior Minister of State for National Development Sim Ann announced in Parliament that all 374 HDB rental coffee shops, or roughly half of all eating houses situated in the HDB estates across the island, will provide budget meal options by 2026.
There were 72 coffee shops offering budget meals as at March 2023, of which 40 are currently listed on the BudgetMealGoWhere website. A total of 100 coffee shops offering such meals will be made available on the platform by the end of 2023, Ms Sim told reporters during a visit to FoodHub@Sengkang on Friday.
Additionally, 34 more coffee shops are slated for completion within the next five years.
Ms Sim said HDB aims to strike a balance between “meeting residents’ needs for more affordable meals, while ensuring that stall holders’ operating costs remain sustainable”.
To ease operators’ and stallholders’ transition into offering budget meal options, coffee shops let out via Price-Quality Method (PQM) tenders have had their rental rates lowered by an average of 27 per cent since 2018.
PQM tenders are assessed based on a range of criteria, and not just price alone. One of the requirements is the affordability of food and drinks offerings.
Likewise, other rental coffee shops due for renewal will enjoy a rental discount of 5 per cent, for a period of one year from the time of tenancy renewal. Safeguards are also put in place to ensure that all stallholders will benefit from the rental discount given to the operators.
New budget meal decal stickers will be displayed on signages of stalls with budget meal options. This allows customers to easily identify the budget meals on offer, and also help to drive sales.
Mr Boo Jenn Tong, 47, manager of an economic rice stall at FoodHub@Sengkang, said: “Eighty per cent of our customers purchase our budget meal, which comprises two vegetable dishes and one meat dish.
“As it is the most popular dish at our stall, we have managed to maintain its low price of $3.30 due to the large quantities being sold every day.”
While the website encourages members of the public to patronise coffee shops with budget meal options, Mr Shaik Ali, 39, the owner of an Indian food stall at FoodHub@Sengkang, says it may not be intuitive for older people to search for information online.
“The website is designed specifically for people who know how to use digital platforms, so the elderly people in the studio flats nearby may have difficulties using it.”
This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.