Complaints about food parcel packaging

Godfried Abrahams was one of the recipients of the parcels pictured on the table. Next to him is his daughter Czeslyn Isaacs.

The Ward 116 councillor has apologised for the parcels that were distributed to some Montrose Park seniors, who were upset when they received parcels with grocery necessities that were seemingly repacked.

Pauline Thompson, facility manager at The Farm Recreational Centre in Montrose Park, said 30 boxes of groceries were delivered to the centre and The Farm Management Committee signed and received the boxes on Monday April 6 on behalf of Ward 116 councillor Michael Pietersen.

Mr Pietersen and The Farm Management Committee agreed to split the 30 boxes of groceries so that more people could benefit.

The parcels were packed by The Farm Management Committee and was later handed over to the Montrose Community Association who distributed the parcels to 50 families. The parcels were handed over to the Montrose Community Association by the councillor, said Ms Thompson.

“We decided on splitting the boxes so that more people could receive from it. We packaged them in plastic packets but over two days we had a shortage of packets. We would staple it to close the packets. Everything was done to avoid contamination. We made sure we did everything in a healthy and clean manner. It is a bit sad that people did not appreciate the parcels as much,” said Ms Thompson.

Magreta Koopman, chairperson of Montrose Community Association, said they had no part in packaging the parcels.

They were requested by Mr Pietersen to create a list of 50 names and distribute those parcels to the names on the list, she said.

“I only heard of the complaints after the parcels were handed out. The people selected would sign to accept their parcel. We are aware of the complaints made afterwards.

“I was not involved with packaging the parcels,” she said.

Senior Godfried Abrahams, 74, from Montrose Park, said he is grateful for the parcel but did not like the way it was packaged.

“I received peanut butter, porridge, flour, sugar, samp, to name a few. I was standing outside when I received the parcel. I looked through the parcel and called my daughter, Czeslyn Isaacs. The packaging is disgusting, why did we get the parcels in that way? I don’t think it’s right that we received opened parcels, however, I am grateful for it.”

Ms Isaacs said they should have given the parcels in enclosed packaging to the seniors. “With the virus going around, we did not deem the parcel to be safe.”

The Montrose Community Association identified a group of seniors and vulnerable people who are most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, as recipients of these parcels, said Mr Pietersen.

“I had no part in distributing or identifying recipients of these parcels. A video went viral on the food parcels. A young woman in Montrose Park claimed to have received a food parcel from me. Never did any one of them approach me on this matter to give clarity. I was informed by the community that this video is on social media,” he said.

“Montrose Community Association and The Farm Management Committee live in the area, I trust them to help the community. They live in the community, they will know who is most in need of the parcels. We were merely there to assist the community in this difficult time,” said Mr Pietersen.

“I would like to apologise if the packaging wasn’t good enough, we will definitely do it better in future,” said Mr Pietersen.

He said they need a sponsor for better packaging if they have the means to feed more people in future.