Goducate’s feeding program began in a very poor area in Laguna, Philippines, where some children had meals only about three times a week. The Covid-19 situation added to the financial burden for these poor families.
393 children from 10 poor areas of Laguna were included in the feeding program. They were first weighed in June 2021, when 133 kids were found to be underweight for their age. Goducate fed these 133 children thrice a week, while the others were fed once a week.
These 133 underweight children had their body mass index (BMI) monitored every other until December. By July 33 of them had an increase in their BMI but it was still below normal for their age.
Initially we delivered food to their homes, but when the Covid-19 alert level was lowered, the children went to a central place in the community for their feeds. The head of the feeding program organized the purchase of the ingredients. The food was cooked by our volunteer staff, by some of the mothers and some of the young people in the community.
In areas where there is no central place for food preparation, meals are wrapped individually and sent to the children.
When weighed again in December, 103 of the 133 underweight children had reached their target BMI. The other 30 had gained some weight but not enough to reach the BMI for their age.
We did not specifically collect data on illnesses, but our general observations indicate that the children seemed to have become more active. The mothers have also told us that their children do not fall ill so often and have become more active.
We involved parents through talks and small-group discussions, and there are plans to train them in hygiene and first aid along the lines of the Health Information Drive (see blog of April 17, 2020). Partnering with us were members of the Philippine National Police who helped to teach children proper methods of wearing facemask and hand washing. They also helped our workers to serve food, and sometimes provided the children with biscuits.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are hoping to provide the children with hygiene kits that include facemasks and alcohol.
Goducate is now planning to start a feeding program in 7 new areas, for 516 children, 214 of whom are underweight for their age.
We are also praying that the areas in which we are conducting our feeding programs will have proper toilets and washing stations to help stop the spread of hygiene-related diseases.
*Our guest writer is Gemma Abrenilla, a staff member at Camp Goducate, Laguna