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LCQ10: Short-term food assistance service projects

     Following is a question by the Hon Wong Kwok-kin and a written reply by the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, in the Legislative Council today (January 5):

Question :

     The Government has implemented food bank projects since 2008 to provide short-term food assistance for people in need and people with difficulties in their livelihood.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the average number of people who have obtained food assistance per month since the introduction of food bank projects, with a breakdown by District Council district;

(b) given that upon the introduction of the above projects in 2008, the authorities undertook to provide $12 million to each of the five non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which are responsible for operating food banks for meeting operational expenses, of the amount of funds which have been spent by each of these NGOs so far, and the average amount of expenses used for providing this service per month;

(c) given that the authorities have set aside a reserve of $27.5 million upon the introduction of the projects in 2008, whether the authorities have used such reserve so far; if they have, of the items funded by the reserve; and

(d) in response to the recent inflation in the prices of food and imported goods, whether the Government will review the existing food bank projects, as well as increase resources and service quotas, in order to meet the demands of the people in need?

Reply :


(a) The five short-term food assistance service projects commissioned by the Social Welfare Department (SWD) commenced operation on February 27, 2009.  Up to November 30, 2010, the five projects had already catered for nearly 40 000 service users.  Since the operating non-governmental organisations (NGOs) only submit statistics of their service areas, SWD cannot provide the information by District Council district.  The average number of beneficiaries per month of the projects is at Annex 1.

(b) The actual expenditure of the five operating NGOs and their average monthly expenditure up to November 30, 2010 are at Annex 2.

(c) The Administration has indicated in its submission to the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council that an initial amount of $60 million will be allocated to the operating NGOs by instalment to meet the operational expenses of the service projects, and that another $27.5 million will be reserved for meeting service demands in excess of the first round of provision.  Since none of the operating NGOs have fully spent the initial allocation, SWD does not have to resort to the reserve at this stage.

(d) There is no quota for the short-term food assistance service.  As service utilisation was stable in the past year and there was no significant increase in service demand, SWD estimates that the funding available will enable the projects to operate up to 2013.  However, SWD will closely monitor the service demand.

Ends/Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Issued at HKT 11:47


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