06/08/2013, 00.00
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Pre-paid noodles, food and solidarity for the poorest Taiwanese

by Xin Yage
New practice of leaving a dish pre-paid in restaurants for those who have no money to eat trending. An initiative that echoes the Neapolitan tradition of "suspended coffee". Young students map out the island indicating the places that offer a meal. And they try to reach the many people, who out of shame, do not have a meal.

Taipei (AsiaNews) -   There is a growing trend in Taiwan that combines food and solidarity: the "pre-paid noodles" (daiyongmian, 待用 面), a meal paid in advance, now popular in various restaurants and shops of the famous "7 Eleven" chain, with signs announcing the initiative hanging outside the shop. This is how it works: those who go to a restaurant or a grocery store can pay for an extra portion of noodles, and the owner, writes it on a special board, gives it to those who do not have the money to eat.

The idea came from Taichung with the support of the city government and has spread through the web, with many young students deciding to provide a complete map of the island with the places where you can have a free meal and enjoy the shared service.

Also in the news in recent weeks has given prominence to the phenomenon of "pre-paid noodles" stressing that the tradition was born from being able to offer a cup of coffee to those who cannot afford it.

The "pre-paid coffee," according to the news reports of the Taiwanese television, and according to the web, it is a tradition born in the city of Naples, which then spread to many parts of the globe, especially in Australia, where in many bars you can order a cup of coffee at the price of one for those who do not have the money to afford it.

University students involved in this laudable initiative are now finding ways to reach the poor and especially to find the right fit for the initiative. Indeed, the paradox of the problem is figuring out who can benefit from the bowl of pasta or soup.  Donors abound but there are few users of the service (as some Chinese restaurateurs write: 捐 多吃 少, "many donors few consumers") because it is hard to tell who really needs it. But also and above all, because those who are poor are a little ashamed to step forward and ask for the free dish.

But the young volunteers are determined and are striving to ensure greater anonymity and to provide the service to those who truly cannot afford even one meal a day.


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