The office of the People's Food Bank is located at Sai On Centre, Sai Ying Pun. It was originally a relief centre for street sleepers. It went into operation on 24 March 1997 and is still providing services for street sleepers on Hong Kong Island today. All along, the centre has been providing food for street sleepers and emergency food supplies for the poor to relieve their hunger. After the financial crisis of 1998, the issue of poverty worsened in Hong Kong. A UN report on human development pointed out that in terms of the gap between the rich and the poor, Hong Kong ranked number 3 in developed areas of the whole world and number 1 in developed areas of Asia. The SAR Government reduced CSSA for the first time in June 1999. This caused further hardship to those who relied on the SAR Government for their livelihood. With the economic downturn and high rate of unemployment, the number of street sleepers shot up. The number of referrals to this centre for food assistance continued to increase. In November 2002, with the help of Food Link, the centre obtained leftovers from a hotel. The food collected, combined with vegetables, provided food for the stomachs of 12 people on average every day. In 2003 when Sars was ravaging the territory, the hotel stopped the supply of food. The free food service offered by the centre was temporarily suspended. Fortunately, a donation made by a Mr Li meant that the service could be relaunched. The daily quota for meal service increased from 12 to 24. Thereafter, the number of people asking for food assistance kept on increasing. As a result, St. James' Settlement formally established the People's Food Bank on 13 December 2003, providing the poor with temporary free food assistance.
The People's Food Bank only receives a small amount of subsidies from the SAR Government. Most of the food, money, tools and equipment are donated by benefactors. Our main task is the collection of food and monetary donations. Our partner agencies in various districts in turn deliver the food to the poor. We welcome all Hong Kong-registered, non-profit-making agencies (which have at least 2 years' experience in community service) to join us.
Through the intermediary of Hong Kong-registered social welfare organisations, people living in poverty can also be referred to the People's Canteen, a subsidiary of the People's Food Bank, for temporary free food assistance.