Food distribution project in Tampines reaches out to 600 needy families, tripling original target

Mr Heng Swee Keat accompanied by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Mr Mah Bow Tan, Ms Irene Ng and Mr Baey Yam Keng at the Launch of Project Ramadan Food Hamper to provide festive cheer for the needy Tampines residents.
Mr Heng Swee Keat accompanied by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Mr Mah Bow Tan, Ms Irene Ng and Mr Baey Yam Keng at the Launch of Project Ramadan Food Hamper to provide festive cheer for the needy Tampines residents.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A food distribution project that Tampines GRC started for the first time last month had aimed to give food hampers to about 200 needy households in the constituency in the month of Ramadan.

But the collection drive garnered immense response and enough food was collected for 600 families - triple the original target - and two elderly homes.

Each hamper contained items such as rice, cooking oil, sugar, salt, instant noodles, and coffee.

Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, who is also an Member of Parliament for Tampines GRC, said when the constituency embarked on Project Ramadan Food Hamper, it "started off with two modest goals".

"First, to raise funds and food items for 200 needy families. Second, to bring the community together through a common good," he said.

"The Tampines community has done us proud... This is a heartening moment, and we know that the kampong spirit is alive and well in Tampines."

Madam Hayati Rahim, 48, who chaired the food distribution project, said many had come forward to donate food items.

Those who wanted to donate could drop off the items at the mosques and community clubs in the constituency. A three-day roadshow was also held at Giant supermarket in Tampines to encourage people to donate.

"We collected so much food that I was worrying about how we would pack the items. But all the volunteers came to help out and we were done packing in two hours," said Madam Hayati, a claims administrator in an insurance firm.

She added that the success of the project's first run is an encouragement. "Of course, if possible, we hope to make it a yearly event," she said.

On Sunday evening, Tampines residents gathered at the Ramadan bazaar at the open field in front of Tampines MRT to receive their food hampers.

One of them, Madam Suraidah Osman, 60, is not working due to health issues. Her 57-year-old husband is not working as well after suffering a mild stroke three years ago.

"We live in a one-room rental flat and whatever money we have is spent on our makan, rent, bills, and transport," said Madam Suraidah, a social welfare recipient. "The hamper can last us for two to three months, which is good."

At the community event, Mr Heng was also asked to comment on the Primary 1 registration exercise, in which CHIJ St Nicholas Girls' Primary was oversubscribed and required a ballot at phase 2A1.

This is the first time balloting has occurred in this phase - the second of seven registration phases and is meant for children whose parents are members of the school's alumni association - since it was introduced in 1999.

This means that there will be no vacancies left for parents intending to register their children in phase 2A2, meant for children whose parents or siblings are former pupils of the school. Forty places, however, have been set aside in phases 2B and 2C, for children with no ties to the school.

Mr Heng said: "It is important to keep access to primary schools open... There are many good primary schools. We hope parents will look at the programmes in the schools and select the one that best fits the needs of the children."