To us who eat at least three square meals daily, the thought of going hungry is inconceivable.
But to the 4.2 million Filipino families polled by the Social Weather Station in May 2021, hunger is a sad reality of life, a result of the widespread unemployment caused by the ongoing pandemic.
Since September 30, an iconic jeepney with a Sarimanok-inspired design has going around the metro, feeding the likes of mothers, children, the elderly, Persons with Disability, and yes, even jeepney drivers with healthy, freshly cooked meals. Called the Kain Tayo Mobile Kitchen, it was conceptualized by Rise Against Hunger Philippines (RAHP), the local chapter of the international hunger relief organization.
As the operator of the first food bank in the Philippines, it provides nutritious and delicious food to communities under crises, whether it be after a devastating typhoon, in a war zone, or during a pandemic. Its goal: to end world hunger in 2030. (Read: Pope to Judges: Hunger and Poverty are Denial of Human Rights)
RAHP Nutritionist and Food Safety Compliance Officer Arlene Castro gives My Pope Philippines the back story to this most unique feeding program, and the lasting solution to ending hunger.
Why a jeepney as a mobile kitchen? How did you custom-fit it for the job of kitchen?
The jeepney symbolizes the humble daily lives of Filipinos and it is a popular form of public transportation in the Philippines. More Filipinos in need can be reached through the jeepney mobile kitchen, unlike bigger vehicles that cannot fit in narrow streets or sitios in different barangays. (Read: Want to participate in a feeding program? These organizations seek volunteers!)
It seems very small to contain a kitchen that can serve a lot of people (usually 500) but this jeepney mobile kitchen was custom-fit to contain two burners, cabinets for food and non-food items, and one compartment sink. It has no fridge but there’s a cooler that can store highly perishable food ingredients that are immediately used in cooking.
Since its launch, where has the mobile kitchen gone? Who has it fed and what’s the most number of people you can feed?
As of November 3, 2021, the Kain Tayo mobile kitchen was able to serve nutritious meals to around 5,000 individuals from different barangays in Pasig City and Taguig City.
What food do you serve and where do you get the ingredients?
Usually, pastas and rice meals, which are added with micronutrient powder that enhances the nutrient quality of the food. Ingredients come from the donated foods in the food bank, and other additional ingredients were sponsored by various donors.
Are these feeding programs planned or random? How do you go about choosing which sectors and groups to feed?
The programs are planned. We work with the local government units to identify the sitios and barangays under their city that have the most vulnerable population. The barangay helps us as well during the meal distribution to ensure that the community continues to follow social distancing and other health and safety protocols.
What are some of the most memorable reactions you’ve gotten from people you fed?
Some people who received hot meals and other food items from the mobile kitchen say that they were lucky enough to have free lunch on that day. They were very thankful that they received foods from the mobile kitchen.
Feeding programs are temporary reprieves. What to you is a lasting solution to hunger?
Amidst the pandemic, there is an urgent need to help families facing food insecurity, but our work does not end here. We are also developing a 4.5-hectare farm in Magdalena, Laguna, to provide sustainable livelihood that will help families develop resilience against disasters and economic downturns. (Read: World Food Programme Gets Nobel Prize, Champions Zero Hunger)
How can people get involved in this worthwhile initiative?
People can already give a child a meal with just a P25 donation to Rise Against Hunger Philippines via GCash. They can also simply follow and share our posts on Facebook to help us raise awareness on food insecurity and malnutrition.