7th February 2023 - 7 min read
The government has recently launched the Menu Rahmah meal programme, which is aimed specifically at helping the hardcore poor by providing lunch or dinner meals at an affordable price. To date, the initiative has been relatively well-received, with the public generally lauding it as a timely effort, especially with the rising cost of living.
Here, we’ve compiled some key information about the Menu Rahmah initiative that may be of interest to all Malaysians; if this is your first time hearing of the meal programme, we’ve got you covered!
The Menu Rahmah initiative was officially launched by the Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Ministry (KPDN) on 31 January 2023, where participating restaurants will serve lunch or dinner sets at a fixed affordable price of RM5. It is especially targeted at those from the B40 income group and the hardcore poor, with the aim of providing a sufficient meal.
The Menu Rahmah initiative is actually also part of the Payung Rahmah short-term programme, which includes other initiatives such as Bakul Rahmah, Kafe Rahmah, Jualan Murah Rahmah, and Barangan Rahmah.
The Menu Rahmah initiative focuses on serving lunch or dinner sets at a recommended price of RM5, although some F&B operators may price it lower at their discretion. Each meal typically includes rice, a choice of protein (chicken or fish, for now), and a portion of vegetables – although some may opt to provide other options or dishes. The food will also come with a drink, usually in the form of a bottle of mineral water.
When Menu Ramah was launched, about 12,000 premises have already begun offering Menu Rahmah meals as part of their menus, including restaurants and outlets affiliated with the following organisations:
Mydin, for instance, was one of the earliest to take part in the initiative before it eventually caught on with many of the other industry players, quickly coming up with a rotating menu that offers different dishes for each day of the week.
Since then, Mydin has said that it is committed to extending these dishes to all its branches nationwide, including Sabah and Sarawak – even though the cost of raw materials in Sabah and Sarawak is higher than in the Peninsula.
Today, the number of participating restaurants has grown to include some 12,000 mamak restaurants, 800 Indian restaurants, 500 tomyam stalls, and all Mydin outlets. Most of these F&B operators will indicate their participation through a dedicated Menu Rahmah sticker, but feel free to also ask any of the employees at the stores if you need clarification!
Malaysians can expect to see even more stores joining the initiative soon, especially since talks are being held with the Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) and McDonald’s fastfood chains to also participate. The Chinese Food Shops Association, too, has expressed an interest to join, and the government is planning to expand the programme to include non-halal restaurants as well. Similarly, selected cafés at public higher education institutions (IPTAs) are also set to offer Menu Rahmah meals after Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
Datuk Seri Salahuddin did not share a specific timeline for the short-term initiative, but has said that the plan can be expected to continue for as long as the food outlets are willing to cooperate in providing the services. Some operators – such as Mydin – have also chimed in to say that the programme is manageable from the producers’ point of view; while they may not make much profit, they do not make losses either.
While the Menu Rahmah initiative is aimed at the B40 income group and hardcore poor, there are no explicit directives from KPDN to restrict these meals only to them. The managing director of Mydin, Datuk Ameer Ali Mydin, too, has clarified that all Mydin customers are welcome to enjoy its Menu Rahmah meals if they wish. “It is also difficult for us to determine who belongs to the hardcore poor, B40, M40, and T20 group, so to avoid arguments in the food court and to ensure smooth business operation, we make the menu open to all,” he explained. There is also no limit on how many sets of Menu Rahmah meals each individual can buy.
Separately, Datuk Seri Salahuddin has called on those who can afford their meals to avoid abusing the perks of the initiative.
Datuk Seri Salahuddin has clarified that the Menu Rahmah initiative is currently a zero-budget initiative. This essentially means that all costs for the programme are borne by participating associations from the F&B and retail sectors, with no subsidy from the government.
However, the minister is planning to propose certain incentives for participating restaurant and food operators in the next Cabinet meeting. These may include reduced rental rates and easier applications for migrant labour. He may also seek for a special budget for the initiative, if the government’s assistance is required in the future.
Menu Rahmah is not necessarily a new initiative; it is similar in spirit to the previous Menu Rakyat 1Malaysia (MR1M) programme – which was introduced back in 2011 – that also sought to offer affordable meals to the people.
For context, the MR1M programme allowed Malaysians to purchase meals for as cheap as RM2, but it eventually fell out of favour with many participating F&B operators as it was financially unsustainable. This was especially due to the rising price of raw materials and fluctuating fuel prices. F&B operators who participated in the MR1M programme, too, received no additional incentives from the government.
Datuk Seri Salahuddin emphasised that Menu Rahmah differed from the MR1M programme as the previous effort collapsed due to the unsustainably low prices that were set. “Owners who struggle financially can reach out to us, we have a designated association. I have talked to the owners; they say there is still some profit margin but they need to compromise a bit. We will pay attention to this and always listen to the association and discuss if there’s any problem, but so far, they say the RM5 recommended price is doable,” he added.
As we’ve mentioned earlier, the initiative has been generally well-received, with many glad for the effort. However, some parties have also commented that while Menu Rahmah is a noble effort, it is not a long-term solution; one even went as far as to compare the initiative to “a band-aid on a broken bone”. This is as many restaurants, too, need help with rising cost problems themselves. As such, the government is urged to address the root problem (rising cost of living) instead.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has indicated that the upcoming Budget 2023 – which is set to be re-tabled on 24 February 2023 – will contain a comprehensive plan to address cost of living issues.
With this, we hope that you now have a clearer idea regarding the Menu Rahmah initiative, including its aims and execution. With more restaurants and F&B operator nationwide gradually being onboarded to participate in the programme, those who are in need will also hopefully have more options to choose from to enjoy a good meal.
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