KUALA LUMPUR: For many people, putting food on the table for their families is not an issue during the Movement Control Order (MCO).
Most people are receiving their salaries and their main grouse would be the long queues at supermarkets, or not being able to find a certain type of bread.
But for a child in a family whose income has been affected by the MCO, even the most basic food items are a luxury.
Things like rice, instant noodles and sardines, which many people throw into their shopping trolleys during their grocery trips, are out of reach for some children whose parents are daily wage earners or temporary workers.
With less money in hand and the inability to earn because of MCO restrictions, these Bottom 40 low-income families find food hard to come by.
The Malaysian Collective Impact Initiative (MCII), a non-governmental organisation working on literacy programmes with schools in Pandamaran and Kapar in Klang since 2016, hopes to address the food shortage among B40 families or those earning less than RM1,000 a month.
By working with state and district education authorities, the Welfare Department and teachers at 13 schools in its literacy programme, it has identified 1,300 families who need food aid.
With a funding of RM200,000 from the Hong Leong Foundation, the organisation will soon be able to provide food items, especially non-perishables, to these families.
MCII chief executive officer Dipti Kumar said: “Our focus is on literacy, but these are dire circumstances.
“We need to focus on basic needs at a time when there’s no food on the table for some children.
“It is only right to address the most urgent needs of the community now.”
MCII conducted a survey to gather data about what these families needed and how their income had been affected by the MCO before starting this initiative.
As the goal has always been to involve the community to bring about sustainable change, MCII has decided to buy groceries for these families from small businesses and grocery stores in Pandamaran and Kapar.
This is to ensure that these businesses, which are also struggling during the MCO, will benefit.
“Most of the families have an average of seven people in the household.
“From our survey, we understand that almost 90 per cent of them either couldn’t earn enough during this period or had lost their jobs because they were temporary workers.”
MCII estimates that groceries for each family will cost between RM130 and RM150, and once bought, these items will be distributed by the Welfare Department to the families.
Alia Wahidin, MCII stakeholder manager, said food was such a basic need and it was worrying that so many families with young children were unable to provide food for their children during this period.
Things like rice, canned food and dried noodles would offer some means for these families to sustain themselves, she said.
“Some of the parents work as stall assistants or do odd jobs. They have survived on a daily wage, but that has been affected.
“More importantly, how can these children focus on schoolwork when they are going hungry?”
The children are in primary and secondary schools.
Alia said for the parents, it was a daily struggle to feed their families and whatever help offered would be appreciated.