Help feed hungry & unemployed workers on Koh Phangan, Thailand

Update posted by Ole Norheim On Jul 27, 2020

Happy Food was lovingly hatched 1st April 2020 with a simple intention: To provide basic food-security on Koh Phangan during Covid.

We gave ourselves the challenging goal of doing that for three months. We’ve ended up raising enough to provide basic food-security for 6 months - all thanks to your ongoing donations, support, and volunteer efforts.

After 4 months of intense activity, we're now moving into Happy Food’s next phase. We have been allowed to operate with the kind support of local authorities and partners in response to the critical situation. In respect of local politics and culture, it's now time for Happy Food to end our fundraising and pass the rice the remaining funds will provide along to local Thai and Myanmar leaders for them to distribute to the people in need. This was the long-term goal of the project: for it to transition to being run by locals.

We’ve faced wonderful challenges in fundraising, logistics, cultural differences, scaling to over 100 volunteers, language barriers, and many more. It’s been an amazing and inspiring movement to be a part of and it's been a great source of motivation to see this island rally around Happy Food and work together to support all people in our community.

Over the past few months, we received donations via Gogetfunding and TransferWise, cash donations by hand from families, friends, and people on the island, through donation boxes in more than 50 Koh Phangan restaurants as well as beautiful fundraising events and direct donations of food and non-food items.

With these kind donations, Happy Food has already distributed 55,000 kilos of rice, tens of thousands of eggs and canned sardines, tons of vegetables, thousands liters of cooking oil, toys, mosquito nets, menstrual pads and thousands of cooked meals.

In the coming weeks, we will provide an additional 50.000 kg of rice. In total, we will reach more than 500.000 meals distributed. I will continue to post photos of receipts and rice being distributed as it happens.

We have built very close cooperation with the Burmese and Thai community leaders on Koh Phangan and I would love to facilitate contact between them and anyone who wants to continue supporting the migrant workers directly with food or other items on the island.

I give a humongous thank you and a big hug to every single person who has contributed to this wonderful project.

My biggest lesson is that when we come together as a community, we can do impossible and wonderful things.

Happy Food is living proof of that and our intention is to continue to offer our support on Koh Phangan in any way we can.

May all beings be fed, may all beings be safe, may all beings be Happy:)

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Thank you Ole, and all others involved, for your commitment, ingenuity, brilliant organization and communication skills, and tireless compassionate action. It has been a privilege for my husband and I to have been able to offer help in a small way from afar, and we are grateful for the opportunity you provided to be a part of this campaign. We love this island and its people, and look forward to returning as soon as travel is again possible to Thailand from Canada. Kapun mak ka. 🙏

Bev Zizzy

Update posted by Jul 29

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Update posted by Sean Kelly On Jul 12, 2020

At Happy Food we've been working closely with a group of Myanmar leaders to help distribute food.

They've been an absolutely crucial part of making this all happen. They're also volunteering, and some have to work full-time jobs on top.

Despite that, their heart is with their community. Helping. And our heart is with them.

I'd like you to meet Jonat, who is responsible for helping distribute to people from Sri Thanu to Chaloklum.

An indispensable part of the team.

Him and others have helped us identify the most vulnerable in the community, so we can provide more full help.

Pregnant mothers, single mothers with small children, disabled, and the elderly.

🙏🙏🙏


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Update posted by Sean Kelly On Jul 06, 2020

We completely underestimated how long it would take to pack 300+ bags for Happy Food...

Volunteers had to stay late into the night to finish.

The eggs. Oh lord. Pro tip: when trying to distribute food, eggs take FOREVER to make work.

But we learn fast.

Next time will be much quicker, hopefully more volunteers, and we get it done fast fast.

A huge thanks to everyone who helped get this done so we could distribute them today 🙏🙏🙏

P.S. The bags were made by a Burmese team. They turned our empty rice bags into these re-usable, solid bags for distributing. It's tough balancing the need to get food to people in need with reducing waste. We're doing our best.


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Update posted by Sean Kelly On Jun 23, 2020

Yesterday's rice distribution:

1. 493 wonderful people in Haad Rin

2. 284 wonderful people in Thong Sala

3. 274 wonderful people in Thong Nai Pan

4. 329 wonderful people at Wat Samai Kongka

After 2 months of fulfilling Phase 1 of Happy Food, we're moving into Phase 2 starting today 🙂

We're going to be shifting how our distribution works, the depth of our help to people, etc.

I'll fill you all in on the details in my post tomorrow....stay tuned 🌝


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Update posted by Sean Kelly On Jun 16, 2020

🍚 Happy Food Stories: Meet The People You're Helping 🍚

Bobo worked at Anatara Resort in food and beverage.

The hotel has been closed almost 3 months due to lack of tourism. He has been without work since then. Your donations have been helping ensure he doesn't go hungry.

Real people. Real benefit.

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Update posted by Sean Kelly On Jun 11, 2020



🍚 Happy Food Transparency 🍚

This is a receipt for our last order of 15,000 kilos of rice that came in on June 5th. It cost 300,000 baht + 10,000 baht to deliver.

Wanted to share it with you all so you know where your donations are going.

If you want further verification, you could also go to one of our distribution points if you want to see the 100s of people lining up with your own eyes.

As we've grown, it's taken more and more baht to sustain what we're doing.

Feeding close to 2,000 people and running through over 150,000 baht/week.

In the last few weeks our donations haven't matched up with how much we're spending, which means we'll have to make some changes going forward so we don't crash and burn.

But it's been beautiful to see all the creative ways people are donating, running little mini fundraisers, the way restaurants and businesses on KPG have joined in.

A big 🙏🙏 to everyone who's been working their butt off to make this a reality and to everyone who has donated to provide rice for those in need.

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Update posted by Sean Kelly On Jun 03, 2020

Happy Food was asked to make a food delivery to the 300+ thai locals who live on Koh Phaluai (the biggest island in the Mu Ko Ang Thong National Park).

The people there mainly live from fishing and collecting rainwater.

Their electricity comes from solar panels and wind turbines.

3 boats went to the beautiful island yesterday with large amounts of rice and some other food donated by local families.

This likely won't be the last trip there 🙏

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Update posted by Sean Kelly On Jun 02, 2020


1. Haad Rin: 445 people

2. Wat Samai Kongka: 370 people

3. Thong Nai Pan: 334 people

4. Thong Sala: 313 people

Lots of rice being distributed all over which is amazing!

But unfortunately the donations are starting to dry up.

We know it takes a lot to continue to support projects like this over the long term.

But that's what it takes.

And we're here for the long-term to make sure no one on this island goes hungry.

Please help us keep the rice flowing with a donation:

https://gogetfunding.com/help-with-essential-food-and-supplies-for-unemployed-workers-on-koh-phangan-thailand/

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Update posted by Sean Kelly On May 25, 2020



About 1,500 people came to the various distribution points today (including this adorable one in the photo):

1. 472 guests served at Wat Samai Kongka. 1300kg of rice.

2. 409 guests served at Haad Rin. 1520kg of rice.

3. 341 guests served at Thong Nai Phang. 960kg of rice.

4. 270 guests served in Thong Sala, in partnership with JJ from The Canteen.

Amazing work by all the volunteers and logistics team.

The expansion out into Haad Rin was not easy, and this week they'll work out how to improve it.

This island has one uniting intention...

No one will go hungry.

May it be so.

🙏🙏🙏

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Update posted by Sean Kelly On May 24, 2020

🍚 Happy Food Update: 150,000 Meals Delivered 🍚

At Happy Food we just crossed a wonderful milestone...

150,000 meals have been passed out since we started 🥳

50,000 full meals and 100,000 rice meals.

A huge team of volunteers, donors, and wonderful people in my local community have all come together to make this happen.

1,800 people are living off this food right now and otherwise would be starving.

It's been a beautiful display of care shown by everyone involved.

If you'd like to help keep the rice flowing, you can do so here.

May no one go hungry.

🙏🙏🙏

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I plan to come back to Phangan as soon as possible and hope I find you all in a healthy condition! Thanks for the great project! Peter

Peter Altmann

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My deepest thank you to the beautiful people of this beautiful island for all you have brought me and taught me.

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