Hong Kong’s More Good Charity is Solving Food Insecurity One Meal a Time
October 03, 2023
Hong Kong is a city of great contrast. Billionaires call mountain peak villas home, whilst the city’s poorest live in subdivided and coffin houses. Hong Kong’s rich dine at Michelin Star restaurants and individuals struggling often go hungry.
Ranking the highest income inequality outside of Africa, Hong Kong (no. 42) suffers food vulnerability with uneasy household consumption and price surges on par with Romania (no. 43), India (no. 44), and Russia (no. 45), according to a report by Japanese bank Nomura.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced Hong Kongers to look within and understand the root causes of food insecurity and vulnerability. Shut off from the world in the summer of 2020, Yardbird restaurateurs Matt Abergel, Kenneth Chan, and Kiyoshi Hoshimi-Caines joined educator Tim King and business owner Brian Fung to tackle this pressing issue, creating More Good, a Hong Kong charity committed to serving meals to the city’s underprivileged residents.
“[More Good] began during COVID, when there was nothing going on at [Yardbird],” Matt tells The Beat Asia in an interview alongside Kenneth and Tim. “We had always wanted to do something in the giving-back space,” Tim adds.
“We were tired of feeling sorry for the situation, and, as we still had our health, we wanted to be positive. A lot of people stopped helping at that time and we noticed more people were in need more than ever,” Kenneth says.
The inception of More Good, with a team of friends who had equal parts experience cooking in kitchens and charity, began as Family Meals Collective in August 2020, where “every Sunday, we cooked 150 meals and provided them to Impact HK for donation,” he added.
“We called it Family Meals because every day in our kitchens [at Yardbird and Ronin], staff would prepare family meals for the team to energise people for six hours of work ahead. Together, we planned how affordable can we make this box [of food] with a balance of nutrition, nice ingredients and cooking.”
The venture between the five Hong Kongers and Impact was an initial success during the cold and dark months of late 2020, prior to Yardbird and the F&B industry opening their doors again in early 2021. “We all wanted to make this a consistent thing. Let’s find a space to create More Good and commit to this,” Tim says.
More Good’s Chai Wan headquarters opened in January 2022, 18 months after founding partner Brian shared his vision to bring the charity into a physical space to serve more in the community where many of the founding members live.
“Outside of making and giving food to those in need, what do we want this space to look like?” Tim shares, “How can we create a community and a space that really empowers all the participants, whether it's the people receiving the meals, the people being part of the volunteering service, or people providing other ways with which they can support us.”
Tim sought to direct More Good beyond a “linear style” of charity, where input is made at the top, recruiting volunteers and preparing meals, to output at the end, serving the community with nutritious, free food. “How can we have everybody who wants to be involved in what we're doing, be able to give back and get something out of it at the same time?”
Since the opening of their Chai Wan kitchen, More Good has hosted more than 200 volunteering sessions and prepared and delivered 40,000 nutritious meals to communities in need across Hong Kong.
“We know people who want to contribute to their community but there was no place for them to do so,” Kenneth shares. “We have the space now where we have access to a community that they can help directly. We can partner with others who have causes to find synergy into what we’re doing.”
In Chai Wan, the More Good team hosts three volunteer sessions every Monday, Friday and Sunday, donating more than 700 meals to locals in Chai Wan and across Hong Kong. The charity sees more than 460 individuals supported regularly from their cooked meals.
A key facet of More Good’s work to prepare their tri-weekly meals is their close network and relationships inviting leading chefs in Hong Kong into their kitchen, including Chef Agustin Balbi of ANDO, Chef Steve Lee of Hansikgoo, Chef May Chow of Little Bao, and Chef Richard Ekkebus of Amber.
“Chefs genuinely want to help others that’s not for monetary gain and nothing to do with business. They want to help our community. A lot of ideas have come and gone throughout this space. You're feeding people that would never come to your restaurant,” Matt says
Beyond utilizing the Chai Wan space solely for food production and pickup, More Good want to expand their services beyond donations and work with other charities and community members to host fun events.
More Good have recently partnered with Humanity Seekers and Justice Centre Hong Kong, a social welfare society assisting migrants in Hong Kong with legal and life support, to run a refugee-led volunteer programme to invite refugees and asylum seekers to cook and give back to the community. “We hope to empower them throughout the whole process and turn this traditional beneficiary-benefactor structure upside down,” Tim states.
Additionally, More Good will be building an advisory panel of leading figures in Hong Kong to advise the go-getter co-founding team of five on the shape of the charity moving forward.
“[The panel] will help bring in other opportunities and skill sets to involve people in meaningful ways, with a totally different avenue to help,” Matt says. “If anything, we're bored. We have low thresholds for doing the same thing over and over. Change is healthy for us.”
The Beat Asia readers can check out volunteering opportunities by clicking "Book Now" on More Good’s Instagram profile or directly visiting their website.
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