A radio duo said they and their listeners have purchased 21,534 meals for financially disadvantaged people at 20 restaurants in Taipei and New Taipei cities as well as raising more than NT$1 million (US$33,700) in donations as of last month.
On April 23 last year, the hosts of Taiwan Voice radio station’s (台灣聲音廣播電台) flagship show, Wang Yi-ming (王一明) and Mei Tzu (梅子), announced on air a plan to routinely purchase “suspended meals” at an eatery in Taipei’s Xinyi District (信義) for people in need.
Suspended purchases are when a customer pays for an item, usually food, but leaves it to the store to give the meal or drink to a customer who asks if there are any suspended items available.
The pair thought they would be carrying out the scheme alone, but their endeavor quickly received a fervent response from listeners, with many supporting the cause by donating money or buying suspended meals at restaurants.
“I have used our radio show as a platform to reach out to those in need over the past five years. If someone called in to the station saying his family needed a sack of rice, I delivered it to his house personally,” Wang said.
Wang said that he and his colleague came up with the idea of buying suspended meals on the spur of the moment, as at the time they were talking about the trend of buying suspended coffee in Italy.
“We told our audience that we would purchase suspended meals at an eatery owned by one of our loyal listeners and that we would donate NT$3,000 to NT$5,000 a month to the owner to feed people who cannot afford food,” Wang said.
The Golden Bell Award-winning radio show host said that he had worried the philanthropic scheme might be short-lived because of his limited income.
“I did not expect to see so many people willing to financially support our scheme, nor did I expect to learn that some of the 20 restaurants even gave away extra food to people who came to claim the meals despite soaring commodity prices,” Wang said.
Wang said there were a few contributors to the scheme who left a lasting impression on him, including a pair of siblings who managed to save NT$100 by spending NT$10 less per day on their breakfast for five consecutive days.
“There is also a contributor who has been making routine donations to our cause to honor his mother’s deathbed wish,” Wang said.
Although there are people who take advantage of the scheme, Wang said the sense of achievement he gains from seeing some of the “familiar faces” stop visiting the restaurants and become able to stand on their own feet has been his greatest motivation.
On the first anniversary of the scheme, Wang and some participants cut a cake donated by one of the restaurants and made a wish.
“We hope we can continue doing what we do until the day suspended meals are no longer needed in Taiwan,” Wang and the participants said.