Enjoy a meal and pay for it with your service to the community. Red Nose aims to revive the kindred spirit within the community—especially among the needy.
Order a Johnson Tang, or Budae Jjjigae, a Korean army stew, and you will be funding Red Dish, a community food program under the Red Nose movement initiated by City Harvest Community Services Association. Red Dish allows diners to choose to pay for their meal with cash or with an hour of service.
The dish originated in the days of the Korean War in the early ’50s, when United States president S. Truman placed US army and naval troops to guard South Korea from North Korea. The extremely poor Koreans would sneak scraps from the US army camps and toss leftover Spam, sausages and baked beans into a large pot. This dish has since become a Korean classic named Johnson Tang, an amalgamation of a typical American surname, Johnson, and Tang, the Asian word for “soup”.
“The food program has the same spirit of the Johnson Tang,” said Knik Pang, project director of Red Nose. “In the same way the Koreans had to source for meat from the United States army base, the idea is for Red Dish is for the community to come together over a meal to find solutions to each other’s problems.”
From Mondays to Fridays, 12 to 2 pm, the public can make their way down to POD (People of Destiny), a community space in Tampines to either pay S$8 for a set meal or give an hour of their service. “We hope to create opportunities for the community to take ownership of community issues; to find out one another’s needs, and hopefully, leverage on resources among themselves to meet these needs,” shared Pang.
“Everyone can do something to help another person. For example, a stay-home mom might be facing financial challenges, but she can help to babysit for a working mom. Basically, we don’t want Red Dish to just give handouts; our aim is for people to know that they can still contribute to their community in site of challenges. Even if they can’t afford a meal, they can still come and enjoy a delicious meal, and ‘pay’ for it by helping out in the community.”
Each Johnson Tang costs S$30 and the sales proceeds go toward supporting the Red Dish program. “For every Johnson Tang we sell, we are able to pay for four Red Dish meals,” said Darryl Loh, executive director for City Harvest Community Services Association. “With the support from some of the members in City Harvest Church, we have already sold 30 pots of Johnson Tang which will pay for 120 meals. This will be the seed funding for us to start the program.”
To encourage the Tampines community to help one another, a notice board will be placed at POD reflecting the number of pots of Johnson Tang sold and the number of meals that are paid for by Johnson Tang. Once the number of paid meals runs out, the program will stop for a month.
“We want the community to ‘own’ their problem, and hopefully when they see the number of paid meals depleting, they would come in to buy a Johnson Tang so that the program can continue,” Pang explained.
Red Dish is one of the many programs started by the Red Nose movement, an initiative by CHCSA to promote better living through experiencing more love and laughter. Its first project, Little Acts of Kindness, encouraged the public to display small acts of kindness to those around them. A “little kind act” could mean holding a door open for a stranger or paying for someone’s meal. The marquee event for Red Nose was the Red Nose Walk held on June 15, in which participants got to “walk a mile” in the shoes of special needs individuals. Participants and beneficiaries did “The Great Exchange” — shoes were exchanged during part of the walk to allow them to literally walk in each other’s shoes.
For more information on the Red Nose Movement, log on to rednose.sg.