Needy families in Eunos get $50 monthly food pack

Needy families in Eunos get $50 monthly food pack
Juggling: Having to care for her sons and elderly mother-in-law, while working for a cleaner puts a strain on Madam Lee Gek Noi.

Thirty needy families living in Eunos will be receiving food hampers worth $50 every month for the next two years.

This is part of a new food distribution project by the Eunos Community Club Youth Club that aims to help alleviate their concerns over food.

Families with special needs children, senior citizens who live alone, or those who are wheelchair-bound are among the beneficiaries of Project Food Care.

The programme's volunteers will send essential food items such as rice, tinned food and biscuits to the homes of needy families.

The programme, launched on Dec 13, received $36,000 in sponsorship from Cargill International Trading, a company providing food, agricultural and industrial products.

Mr Sear Hock Rong, 29, chairman of the Eunos Community Club Youth Executive Committee, said the programme was started to help those who need to scrimp and save just to put food on the table.

He said: "In meeting their basic need for food, we hope to help underprivileged families and the elderly living alone reduce anxiety.

"We also hope they understand that they are not alone in fighting challenges arising from financial difficulties."

Many of the programme's volunteers are students from the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College East.

They will also help to gather feedback on the kind of food items the beneficiaries will need the following month.

Volunteer Huang Weiqi, 19, said it is heartening to be able to help make the lives of the beneficiaries easier.

He said: "Despite the language differences, they have expressed their deep gratitude towards this project that could have reduced the many challenges they are facing."

'Hampers will feed my boys'

Madam Lee Gek Noi, 45, is a part-time cleaner and also looks after her two sons, aged eight and nine, and her mother-in-law, 70.

She is the main breadwinner as her husband, an odd-job worker, does not have a stable income.

Her brother-in-law, who also lives with her, has a low IQ and does his part for the family by selling packets of tissue paper.

The family struggles to make ends meet. Madam Lee brings in about $600 a month and receives financial help for her children's school needs.

Half of her salary goes towards paying for the mortgage of her three-room flat, which comes up to $320 a month. She has about $700 in overdue utility bills.

She said in Mandarin: "I'm worried they will cut off the electricity to my flat. My mother-in-law needs to have the lights on at night to see and without it, there might be a risk of her falling."

Another worry for the family: Her mother-in-law's gout.

Said Madam Lee: "Sometimes my brother-in-law would unknowingly buy his mother food that she shouldn't be eating, and when I try to stop her, she will insist on eating it anyway, saying it would be a waste if she didn't."

DANGER

Her two sons, who are hyperactive, need constant supervision as they might endanger the themselves, and the people around them if left unattended, she said.

She said in Mandarin: "My elder child has dunked his sibling's head into the water at a swimming pool and they have even managed to set the kitchen on fire.

"You never know what they can be up to so you need to keep watch every minute."

Madam Lee said the food hampers given by Project Food Care will help feed her boys.

"The food is helpful to us as they give things that we eat frequently. My boys are also about to go through puberty so it will also go a long way in giving them the nutrients to grow.

Handouts help me save money

Madam Ong Siew Poh, 75, had been working as a cleaner until a car accident left her unable to continue working eight years ago.

Two of her five children, who are aged between 49 and 53, are warded at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) and the remaining three struggle to make ends meet.

Her children do not live with her.

The widow lives off her savings and does not receive long-term financial help.

She declined to say how much she has saved. Instead, she said she spends about $3 a day on meals.

"I hope to return to the workforce and perhaps work as a cleaner if there is a chance," she told The New Paper, speaking in Hokkien from her three-room flat in Bedok Reservoir Road.

Out of habit, she sleeps in her living room. She also hopes that this sleeping arrangement will allow her to maximise the rental income of her two bedrooms.

She has one tenant, who pays $250 in rent. Her monthly expenses are $500, she said.

Medical bills make up a large portion of the expenses, as she suffers from chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

For the past nine to 10 months, she has been trying to find another tenant to supplement her income, but to no avail.

Madam Ong said the food hampers will be important in helping her save on her expenses.

"The food hamper really helps as I eat pretty much everything that is given. I am thankful that it helps me to save."

joonlei@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Jan 5, 2015.
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