Credit: 123rf and Screengrab/Telegram

Have a craving for chicken rice but feeling too lazy to head out of your house? Well, you’re not the only one.

Takeaway food has become the norm these days as dining in at eateries is not allowed during Phase 2 (Heightened Alert).

While some of us are relying on food delivery services to satisfy our cravings, many hawkers — especially the elderly ones who are not tech-savvy — are worried that they’d go out of business.

After learning of their plight, some Singaporeans have come up with ways to help the hawkers, one of which is Redditor nGS_Official.

On Thursday (May 27), he said that he had created a Telegram bot named SaveTheHawkers which will help to match people who are going to dabao food with those living in the vicinity who want to buy food from the same hawker centre or stalls.

In his post, he noted some issues that the elderly hawkers are facing such as not being tech-inclined, not having a delivery service, and a lack of resources to manage food delivery.

“Some of the elderly hawkers are making a loss every day, but insist on continuing with their business using their personal savings,” he wrote.

The creator of the bot, Jeremy, a student at Nanyang Technological University, told AsiaOne: “I want to help the local hawkers, especially the elderly ones. I also want to help preserve the hawker culture in Singapore.”

Jeremy said that he started the project on May 25 and that the biggest challenge he has faced so far is getting more people to use the Telegram bot. 

While the project is in its early stages of development and he has spent “sleepless nights fixing bugs”, the student said that he will continue improving the bot after receiving valuable feedback and suggestions from others in the Singapore subreddit.

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How it works

After typing ‘/start’ into the Telegram chat, a message will pop up asking if you are going out to dabao foodor checking if anyone in your block is heading out to buy food.

PHOTO: Screengrab/Telegram

For example, if you’re eating prata and you’re willing to help others to dabao food, simply type in ‘/helptobuy’ or tap on the option in the text. You will be prompted to enter your postal code and the dish you are going to buy.

But if you want to eat prata but are too lazy to go out to buy it, you can simply type ‘/asktobuy’ in the chat to see whether there’s someone going to buy from the same hawker stall.

PHOTO: Screengrab/Telegram

Once there’s a match, the bot will show you the Telegram username and you can proceed to contact them to decide on a meeting place to collect your food and a small delivery fee for the person’s effort. The bot will also alert you if there’s no match.

PHOTO: Screengrab/Telegram

Done dabaoing your food? Simply type ‘/donebuying’ into the Telegram chat and the bot will remove your entry.

If you’re looking for a way to help hawkers in your neighbourhood, the SaveTheHawkers bot is one way to #supportlocal.

This article was first published in AsiaOne.