Valenzuela City and Ateneo Center for Education Development (ACED) recently led the commitment signing and inauguration ceremony of the 318 square-meter central kitchen for the local government project, K to 6 In-school Feeding Program targeted at bringing the malnutrition rate among school children in Valenzuela City to tolerable limits.
The project which is in partnership with the Ateneo de Manila University’s Blueplate for Better Learning feeding program initiated by ACED is the first city-wide in school feeding program in the country has started last September 10 and will last until the end of classes next year. The Valenzuela City Central Kitchen is also the first kitchen under Blueplate which is fully-funded by a LGU.
ACED Executive Director, Ms. Carmela C. Oracion praised the active support of Mayor WIN to the needs of Valenzuelano children. The program benefits 6,000 undernourished children from kinder to grade six from all public schools in the entire city. They are given nutritious food everyday during school days because hunger and malnutrition destroys their readiness to learn and attain good and quality education.
Ms. Oracion revealed that ACED has public school partners in and around the NCR with 50% malnourished children and most of the students go to school hungry. These are the children who cannot fully participate in their classes which is at 20% average at national level.
City Mayor Sherwin T. Gatchalian said that he opted for 100% coverage of all public elementary schools in Valenzuela “to help in reducing this 20% with wasted education opportunity.
The feeding program is a multi-sectoral effort to, as Ms. Oracion put it, “slay the poverty monster with many hearts.” The success of the program relies not only on the local government, Division of City Schools of Valenzuela and the Ateneo, but on other key players, as well, namely: the school principals, feeding coordinators, drivers of the 39 public schools, food suppliers, parents and kitchen volunteers who all contribute important part on its implementation.
Ateneo’s Vice President for Social Development, Atty. Jaime Hofileña thanked and commended these volunteers whom he tagged as “the hope of the hope of the nation.”
Ms. Oracion specially mentions the efforts of the WIN Mothers Club headed by its president, Ms. Linda San Juan in overcoming the daily challenge in the Central Kitchen which include cutting 150 kilos of squash, stringbeans, carrots, chopping a basin of garlic, onion and ginger, cooking five to seven sacks of rice everyday.
Father Ben Nebres of Kapisanan ni Jesus, Ateneo de Manila University led the Kitchen Blessing Paraliturgy. Also present during the event are Ms. Amy Perez and Mr. Jhoel Loanzon of ACED, City Councilors Lorie Natividad-Borja and Marlon Alejandrino, Barangay Arkong Bato PB Rovin Felicano and Barangay Pasolo PB Ricar Enriquez, and Ms. Jenny Esplana, representing Councilor Gerry Esplana.