Food Court Operator A just contacted me with some less-than-stellar news: they were extremely gracious and respectful, but told me they regretfully wouldn’t be able to participate in the project. The main reason, according to my contact at Food Court Operator A, is that they’ve just started getting on board with NEA’s Tray Return Initiative, and don’t want to overload the public with too many campaigns at once, wishing to concentrate on one at a time. My contact did have lots of words of encouragement though and said she hoped to work together in the future – I really hope she wasn’t just saying that to be nice!
I also just got off a phone call with one of the managers at Food Court Operator B, and they pretty much said the same thing :/. She’d spoken with their operations team, who said they were tied up with other initiatives, especially the Tray Return Initiative. It was just bad timing, she said. I do think the Tray Return Initiative is a great effort, what with how it addresses social graces and respect for food centre workers… but how frustrating! It kind of reminds me of how charities and different social causes are forced to “compete” against each other for the donor’s dollar.
My contact from Operator C has said she’ll get back to me by the end of the week, so we’ll see where things go from there!
To be on the safe side though, I’m building up some backup plans. (My project isn’t part of an official internship programme – it’s an independently-designed project that just came out of a conviction that this was an important issue to pursue. I knew from the start that I’d have to work extra, extra hard and be flexible enough to adapt as quickly as possible to whatever unforeseeable things cropped up.)
Some alternative options:
- Event-specific or organization-specific catering
- Individual restaurants, particularly those with a social and environmental consciousness spin
- Talk to NEA about working with a hawker centre
- Office canteens
- University canteens
Fingers crossed! As Joey said, in that one episode of Friends (‘The One Where Rosita Dies’), “If you want something enough and your heart is pure, wondrous things can happen!”