SINGAPORE (Dec 31): Rayner Loi was taken aback when the mother of a boy he was mentoring teared up while thanking him for taking her son to dinner. Loi then realised the boy would have gone to bed hungry otherwise. “She told me how much it meant to her and her son because on most days, she couldn’t afford to put dinner on the table,” says Loi. “I walked away from that feeling a great sense of injustice because around that time, I had also read about Singapore’s food waste situation. I also found out, through my own research, that one in 10 people — about 10% — suffer from food insecurity [in Singapore].”

Loi was inspired to start a business to tackle the problem. His initial idea was to purchase leftover food from restaurants at the end of the day to redistribute to the needy. But he had to change his concept after encountering tremendous difficulty in getting the business off the ground. “When I spoke to restaurants, I realised they ­weren’t really interested. They saw it as too much of a hassle and it just didn’t make sense for them… It was very, very challenging,” Loi rues. Now 24, Loi is the CEO and co-founder of Good For Food, a start-up that aims to help commercial kitchens reduce food cost and waste through big data analytics.

His encounter with the boy is particularly poignant when viewed against the backdrop of the lifestyle of the ultra-rich depicted in Crazy Rich Asians, the 2018 hit movie set in Singapore. It is this gaping inequality between the haves and have-nots that has been at the centre of a raging conversation in Singapore this past year. And it will likely continue to be so in 2019 and beyond.

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