In 2011, when Christine Laimer, co-founder of Food from the Heart (FFTH), asked Ronald Stride to take over the non-profit, the 78-year-old rose to the challenge. “The charity’s concept of being a food distribution channel for the needy interested me as few believed there were poor, hungry people in Singapore. I wanted to help raise awareness of this situation,” says Stride, the organisation’s chairman of seven years.
In 2016, over 791,000 tonnes of food waste was generated in Singapore – with only 14 per cent recycled. Turning unused food into opportunities to feed the underprivileged, FFTH runs food distribution programmes issuing items from bread to non-perishable food products.
“When Christine passed the baton over to me, FFTH was run like a small organisation. She had played the role of chief administrator, fund-raiser and awareness-builder. But I knew that if we wanted to grow the charity, we had to professionalise it,” says Stride. A former managing partner for Asia at management consultancy Booz Allen Hamilton, he built a development and communications team while creating finance and fund-raising committees at the board level.
“TO GROW A CHARITY, MY PHILOSOPHY IS THAT YOU HAVE TO RUN IT AS A BUSINESS.”
Under his charge, the charity distributed $5.5 million worth of food last year, up from $3.1 million in 2012. To date, the organisation benefits over 35,500 people via six programmes, the most recent involving the collection of near-expiry food items from 146 Fairprice outlets before giving them to the needy. “To grow a charity, my philosophy is that you have to run it as a business,” says Stride.