Project Location: Manila, Philippines
Project Code: HDP PTB0522

At the height of the pandemic, the Tondo site ‘adopted’ a community in Manila called Baseco, because site staff knew  the children were suffering from hunger and would not receive other supports.

Chalice has partnered with BYSMP Bless the Children Foundation, Inc. since 2014. The sponsor site’s central office --known as the “Centro” -- sits within the impoverished region of Manila, where densely packed homes are constructed of makeshift materials and there are few or no services, utilities, or sanitation. Families earn incomes doing casual, low-wage work such as peeling garlic and recycling scrap metal. The “Centro” is a hive of activity, providing a daily hot lunch, workshops, tutoring, an on-site medical and dental clinic, music lessons, and a tailoring workshop for mothers of sponsored children.

At the height of the pandemic, the Tondo site ‘adopted’ a community in Manila called Baseco, because the site staff knew that the children were suffering from hunger and would not receive other supports. Baseco is one of the most depressed urban poor communities in Manila. Malnutrition is rampant among the children in the area, and the local government has few means to combat it. The problem of food insecurity existed for these families before COVID, and the pandemic has increased the risk substantially by causing widespread job losses and commodity price inflation. Across the Philippines, fatalities attributed to malnutrition increased by 38% between 2020 and 2021.

Another danger the families face is tuberculosis, an infectious disease spread via aerosols (coughs, sneezes). The rate is “staggering” in Baseco, according to Tondo site staff. Poor nutrition causes a weak immune system, and tuberculosis is very dangerous for a body whose defences are down. Good nutrition is key for a healthy immune system.

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The Tondo site have now created a plan to make the feeding program in Baseco a fixture in their site-wide nutrition program. Bless the Children Foundation, Inc. maintains a facility in Baseco where children go for feeding and other activities. The meals will be prepared there and taken to three distribution spots in the surrounding area.   

Site staff will identify new children to enter the program, prioritizing children with more complex health issues, including tuberculosis or acute malnutrition. Combined with the children who have already been attending daily lunch in Baseco, there will be 500 children coming to eat every weekday.

Each child will get assigned to a group. These groups are led by parent volunteers, who help prepare the food, oversee the daily feeding, and ensure children and parents get to staff-led information workshops. All the children’s parents will meet with staff to ensure that the parents understand what the program entails.

The staff and parent volunteers will serve a hot, nutritionally balanced meal to 500 children, 5 days a week. The children’s Body Mass Indices (BMIs) will be assessed every month. Any child diagnosed with anemia will have their blood checked quarterly.

Each quarter, staff and professionals will lead information workshops on topics related to food, nutrition, container gardening, oral hygiene, and health. They will do these presentations both for the children and their parents.

The total budget to run the nutrition program for one year is $75,934.64 CAD. This includes as 12-month supply of rice, meat, poultry, noodles, vegetables, eggs, fish, and cooking fuel. It also includes vitamins and hemoglobin testing tools. It also covers a small stipend salary for a cook, who will be responsible for planning the monthly menu with the Feeding Coordinator and organizing the smooth running of the kitchen with the volunteer mothers.                             

Budget in Canadian Funds: $75,934.64 CAD

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Please note that any donations that exceed the request will be used to fund other community projects/programs that may arise.

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