Ode to instant noodles: Pandemic book project raises $600,000 for students and young artists

SINGAPORE – A book project by non-profit organisation TRCL has raised about $600,000 for beneficiaries of The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund (STSPMF) and The Business Times Budding Artists Fund (BTBAF).

Launched at Raffles Hotel Singapore on Tuesday (Aug 17), the book, Instant Comfort: A Collective Memory, features more than 100 stories from Singaporeans who share their memories of a beloved Singapore staple – instant noodles.

The book was inspired by panic buying in the early days of the pandemic last year, when instant noodles were one of the top three grocery items that flew off supermarket shelves.

The launch on Tuesday was attended by Mr Warren Fernandez, editor-in-chief of Singapore Press Holdings’ English/Malay/Tamil Media Group and editor of The Straits Times, who is also chairman of the STSPMF; Mr Wong Wei Kong, editor of The Business Times and chairman of the BTBAF; as well as Ms Jennie Chua, chairman of TRCL, formerly known as The Rice Company.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, who was the guest of honour at the launch, commended the efforts to raise funds for students and artists, two groups that had been heavily affected by the pandemic.

The book, Mr Ong said, reflected the personal journeys of Singaporeans during the pandemic.

“When it’s all over, we will all have a personal story to tell. How we lived through this period, how we stayed in touch with friends, how we worked from home, stayed in touch with family and loved ones, and what are the relationships gained and relationships lost during this period,” he said.

Mr Ong was one of the more than 100 contributors to the book, which also includes accounts from Speaker of Parliament Tan Chuan-Jin, singer Kit Chan and former Olympic swimmer Oon Jin Teik.

In his story, Mr Ong, who was previously Transport Minister, likened instant noodles to a bicycle, noting how the dish is an entry point for many to the world of cooking, just as a bicycle is the entry point to the world of transport.

From January to August this year, a 14-member editorial team from TRCL compiled accounts from individuals hailing from all walks of life, including students, national servicemen, retirees, healthcare workers and foreign domestic workers.

From trying – and failing- to create salted egg instant noodles during the circuit breaker, to travel and childhood memories associated with the dish, contributors shared humorous and heartwarming stories of overcoming obstacles and spending time with their loved ones.

In addition to compiling a quirky record of the resilience and hope of Singaporeans during the pandemic, TRCL also tapped the book to reach out to donors such as Lee Foundation, CapitaLand Hope Foundation, FairPrice Foundation, Mind the Gap 200 Funds among others, to support the STSPMF and BTBAF.

The book reflected the personal journeys of Singaporeans during the pandemic. 

(From left) Ms Jennie Chua, Mr Wong Wei Kong, Mr Warren Fernandez and Mr Ong Ye Kung during the cheque presentation at Raffles Hotel Singapore, on Aug 17, 2021. 

Co-editor of the book Siow Yu-Ming highlighted how the project signified “creativity in times of darkness”.

She said: “In this, we are reminded of how non-profits can imaginatively develop less traditional avenues to engage creatives, leaders and thinkers. We all can work together for the bettering of society. A community book like this brings everyone together in good fun and for a common good.”

Ms Tan Bee Heong, general manager of the STSPMF, said the fund was “appreciative of the hard work and dedication of those who worked on this project and to raise funds for the two charities”.

“In fact, I would like to think that there is so much in common between instant noodles and STSPMF – simple, basic, easily understood and keeps the stomach from getting hungry. The funds raised will go a long way in helping our kids with meals and schooling needs.”

Proceeds from the sale of the book will also go towards the BTBAF.

Where to buy Instant Comfort: A Collective Memory

The book was inspired by panic buying in the early days of the pandemic last year. 

Instant Comfort: A Collective Memory, priced at $25, is available at Raffles Boutique, Raffles Hotel, 10 Square, Orchard Central and The Little Arts Academy, Northpoint City.

The book is also available online at: 

– CapitaMall

– KrisShop Cares

– TRCL website 

E-commerce platform Shopee will have a special promotion of the book next month.

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