The Hershey Company and PBSP launch Year 5 of “Nourishing Minds -The Filipino Way." The project, established in 2015, aims to support the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) 2 to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture, and SDG 3 to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for malnourished children in the Baseco, Manila.
Life has been difficult for Mary Ann Razos, a mother of eight from Baseco, Manila who has to work hard to support her children.
At exactly two in the morning, Razos would wake up and begin her day by storing water, preparing food for her children, and cleaning their small sari-sari store which also doubles as their house. Then, she goes to the market in Divisoria to buy goods to sell. In the afternoon, she would wash the clothes of her neighbors to earn a little extra money.
It is not easy for Razos to raise more than half a dozen of children with only Php100 to PhP300 in her wallet every day. Due to their plight, Razos could not give her children nutritious food every day, as much as she wants to. Her five-year-old son, Jhancel suffered the most as he had been malnourished.
According to the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the chronic malnutrition rate among Filipino children aged zero to five was at 19.1 percent in 2018. Most of these children belong to the poorest of the population and families are affected due to the lack of nutritious food and long periods of hunger.
Luckily, Jhancel was chosen to be one of the beneficiaries of the “Nourishing Minds -The Filipino Way” project of The Hershey Company (THC), in partnership with the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP). The project, established in 2015, aims to support the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) 2 to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture, and SDG 3 to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for malnourished children in the Baseco, Manila.
During the Year 5 launch of the project recently, THC top officials and employees visited the beneficiaries at the Manila Daycare Center Cluster 5 and 6 to see how it has improved the health and academic performance of the children.
During the Year 5 launch of the project recently, THC Vice President for Global Services Jill Broschard led THC employees in visiting the beneficiaries at the Manila Daycare Center Cluster 5 and 6 to see how it has improved the health and academic performance of the children.
Over 20 THC employee-volunteers also assisted the children who in turn performed a production number to show their gratitude to their benefactors.
THC and PBSP top officials also paid a courtesy call to Manila Mayor Francisco ‘Isko Moreno’ Domagoso and Manila Department of Social Welfare (MDSW) Chief Asuncion ‘Re’ Fugoso to share the gains of the project in the Baseco community.
Mayor Domagoso, who grew up in Tondo, lauded the project. He said that initiatives like the supplemental feeding program make their jobs easier because it provides a big help to communities like Baseco.
For Mary Ann and her son Jhancel, the supplemental feeding program is indeed a big help for their family. After the 120-day feeding program, Jhancel’s weight did not only improve but also his performance in school. He was even awarded as the most improved pupil in the daycare during the recognition ceremonies last March.
“Before, Jhancel was very thin, pale, and malnourished. He was usually admitted in the hospital due to pneumonia or dehydration. But since he joined the feeding program, Jhancel learned to eat vegetables, especially carrots and potatoes. The feeding program was really a great help, especially to every mother in the daycare center who do not have enough money to give their children healthy meals every day,” Razos said.
For her family, this intervention is even more significant as Manila Daycare Center Teacher Ana Bachoco gives Razos and other parents excess food from the supplemental feeding program.
Through the project, the parents were also taught how to prepare nutritious food and were also tasked to cook the food of the children in the daycare’s kitchen which was also provided by THC.
No matter how busy she is, Razos makes it a point to always help, whether be it in cleaning the daycare center, washing dishes after the feeding program, and collecting all its garbage.
“I haven’t tried helping in my son’s school before. I think this was the first time that I volunteered and helped every day in the daycare center. Sometimes, I was tasked to be the point person of Teacher Ana in giving announcements or reminders to my fellow parents. I feel overwhelmed but humbled at the same time, to be able to help the school in my own little ways,” she revealed.
For Razos, the feeding program gave her so much more than it intended to provide. Apart from helping her son become healthy and perform well in school, it has put food on their table often, and has empowered Razos to become a better mother and a reliable parent-ally to the school.
The Nourishing Minds project of THC, in partnership with PBSP, has nourished more than 880 pupils, renovated and maintained a daycare center, and educated 680 women through Safe Motherhood and supplemental feeding programs since 2015.
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