Paying it forward

Paying it forward
Caption: Mdm Ong is happy to use her cooking skills to spread cheer to frail seniors

"I did not know how to cook for seniors. But when I was told if I can cook for children, I can cook for seniors, that struck me! Seniors are like children. The food has to be less salty, nutritious and easy to swallow. I felt hopeful.” 

Mdm Alice Ong enjoys cooking. The 62-year-old sprightly senior worked as a kindergarten cook for four years before retiring three years ago due to health reasons. Mdm Ong used to whip up delicious meals daily for over 80 children and staff.

On her way to work, Mdm Ong would pass by TOUCH Active Ageing (TAA) located at Yishun Block 436. TAA staff started befriending her and learnt more about her interest in cooking. They continued to keep in touch with her after she retired. Tapping on her culinary skills, TOUCH staff asked if she was keen to cook for 14 vulnerable seniors in the neighbourhood as part of the Blessed Food Blessed Life project by TAA.

Discovering strengths
“When they popped the question, I was doubtful. I did not know how to cook for seniors. But when I was told if I can cook for children, I can cook for seniors, that struck me! Seniors are like children. The food has to be less salty, nutritious and easy to swallow. I felt hopeful,” said Mdm Ong.

When Mdm Ong was working in the kindergarten, she had upgraded her skillsets, taking up courses and getting her certification. She was taught how to choose ingredients, cook healthy meals, and follow food safety and hygiene guidelines.

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Caption: Mdm Ong preparing a flavourful dish

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Caption: Experiencing the joy of volunteering

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Caption: Mdm Ong (left) and TAA staff Ms Doris Lim (right) with packed meals for seniors 


As a dedicated volunteer, Mdm Ong takes the effort to get feedback from seniors to help her improve her dishes. Some of their favourite dishes include braised pork and eggs, sardine with curry, cabbage and fried rice.

As part of TOUCH’s community enablement efforts, residents, neighbourhood schools, community gardens have also chipped in to help – from delivering the meals to sponsoring the ingredients.

“I feel so happy to see seniors tucking into my warm meals. Coming from a poor family when I was young, I know how it’s like not to have proper meals. Home cook food is still the best! Since I love cooking, I gladly cook for seniors. I do what I can to contribute to society with my abilities,” added Mdm Ong.