“If you live near a construction site, try this – boil 2 dozen eggs. Put them in a plastic bag and hand them over to the first friendly face you see among the workers. Just say “For you and your friends. Thank you.”
Many speak English but you don’t need language to understand the grins that follow. I did that today with 10 eggs – which I now think are too few. I don’t know yet how to solve the problem of poor nutrition among foreign workers – but I do know how to boil eggs.” – Overheard on Facebook.
It has been reported in ChannelNewsAsia that foreign workers in Singapore are receiving catered meals that usually consist of just rice and tinned meat or curry, and the food is delivered so early that by mealtime, they would have gone bad.
The study is conducted by researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) and HealthServe, a non-governmental organisation (NGO).
Based on interviews and focus groups with about 60 Bangladeshi workers living in the Tai Seng area, the researchers found that the meals – usually a pile of rice and some tinned meat or curry – are often delivered hours in advance.
I spoke with a friend of mine who once volunteered with welfare groups involving foreign workers.
“When I was an undergrad, one of my temp jobs was to take the workers to different sites in the company van. That’s when I learnt more about how they are treated. All the “cooks” at the site (if there even was a kitchen), are not trained cooks.”
It was mostly haphazard, “They just pick the nearest person and say – you, ok your duty to cook.” Cooking for three people is vastly different affair from cooking for 300.
According to the report, if you come by construction sites or shipyards early in the morning, you will see how packs of food are left along the roadside. By the time workers have their meals, often the plastic bags would have been broken (by cockroaches or rats). The food is so smelly it has obviously gone bad.
Because of their low salaries and restricted amount of free time, many workers continue to be malnourished.