People Stories

Talent & Sector Development

Empower the elderly with the dignity of nutritious cooking

Bobo Wong: “I hope to reverse the disadvantaged and overlooked status of the elderly.”

The issue of ensuring the elderly have sufficient and healthy food does not seem to be a concern for the general public. Getting fresh produce in small or single-serving portions from the market very often poses a challenge to the elderly, particularly those living by themselves, leaving them in a rabbit hole of taking in stale and low-quality food and gradually compromising their nutrient absorption and health.

Bobo found such phenomenon outrageous. Meanwhile, the saying that “Innovation stems from inspiration, as individuals are dissatisfied with certain social conditions and desire to effect change.”, kept lingering in her mind. Hoping to provide the elderly with the choice of healthy food, she and her team launched the “Elderly Fresh Market” under JC InnoPower Fellowship for Teachers and Social Workers programme where the elderly can purchase fresh and nutritious ingredients in single-serving portions.

Under the elderly-led project, a committee comprising 29 elderly was formed in Tseung Kwan O and To Kwa Wan respectively. After 15 rounds of meetings, the committee came up with the operational details about the “Elderly Fresh Market” including product categories and services review. Having garnered support and discounts from dozens of merchants, they worked out a “joint purchase” process – the committee would first purchase fresh and nutritious ingredients from the market, which would then be divided into smaller portions and resold to members in need. The project enables the elderly to help themselves and others. One committee member, Grandma Leung, who had been living by herself for long and gradually losing the will to live due to chronic pain, was able to apply her experience as a street vegetable vendor in her youth and shared tips on selecting fresh produce and cooking with others. The project gained her community care and the incentive to live.

Through the project training and workshops, Bobo has learned that the keys to innovation lie in a clear understanding of the underlying intentions and motives, followed by detailed planning and constant self-reflections on “why” in order to stay focused, rather than merely focusing on “what to do”. The aim of the “Elderly Fresh Market” is to provide the elderly with the choice of healthy ingredients. The next stage is to empower committee members to operate the market on their own. She says, “I hope, by enabling the elderly to engage in collective collaboration and negotiations with merchants, the disadvantage and neglect on them can be resolved, thereby establishing an “senior-friendly sales model”. Bobo's vision is to create a community full of love and care, where the elderly can purchase single-serving portions of fresh and nutritious ingredients from the market and live on a healthy lifestyle of cooking.

Did you know?

Launched in 2016, JC InnoPower Fellowship for Teachers and Social Workers programme aims to build the innovative capacity of teachers and social workers, ultimately contributing to the professions’ long-term development. The programme has provided training to a total of 99 teachers and 104 social workers, establishing a unique and innovative training model in Hong Kong.

Information updated to Mar 2024