ACED’s Food Packs Program: An anti-hunger initiative and an educational intervention
29 Nov 2022 | Office of the Assistant Vice-President for Social Development, Environment, and Community Engagement
The Ateneo Center for Educational Development (ACED) has been at the forefront of pursuing the university’s mission to address the poverty gap in our country through improving the quality of basic education in the Philippines. Aside from developing and conducting various teacher training programs, one concrete way ACED has worked to improve public school students’ educational outcomes is through their feeding programs. By profiling the schools and analyzing their needs in order to come up with targeted interventions, ACED learned more about the various factors leading to poor academic performance and one glaring problem was that of hunger and malnutrition.
What is the future of a malnourished child? How can a hungry child learn? With these important questions in mind, ACED proceeded to conduct in-school feeding programs for pre-identified hungry and malnourished children in public schools, with the desire to boost their nutritional state and their ability to learn. This served as both an anti-hunger initiative and an educational intervention. In working to address hunger and malnutrition, and prevent stunting among public school children, these young students would be given a better chance to do well in their studies and complete their education.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools closed and face-to-face classes were put on hold. This posed a great problem as the children in ACED’s partner schools could not receive the daily meals and proper nutrition provided by the in-school feeding programs. ACED had to quickly reimagine their feeding programs’ mode of delivery. They immediately and successfully transitioned to a Food Augmentation Program that provided food packs to their beneficiary public school children and their families. The weekly food packs consist of nutritious food in the form of vegetables, fruits, and root crops sourced directly from various Luzon farmers. Through this partnership, the food packs become possible at an affordable and low cost while also directly supporting the farmers' livelihood.
This modality of providing food packs as an alternative to the previous in-school feeding programs has shown to benefit not only the children from ACED’s partner schools but their families as well. It caters to the need to provide these school children with nutritional meals to help them learn and perform better while continuing to observe the necessary health and safety protocols in the face of the ongoing pandemic. It also helped address the unintended stigma felt by some of the public school children when they would participate in the in-school feeding programs onsite. Receiving food packs felt more normal for the beneficiaries.
Amidst challenging and uncertain times, ACED’s Food Packs program has continued to support public school children and their families, unrelentingly fighting against hunger, driven by the goal to improve educational outcomes for their young beneficiaries. ACED firmly believes that good education is a clear way out of poverty, and through efforts such as their Food Augmentation Program, these children get to receive their much needed nutrition, helping them become healthier and more able learners.
Studies conducted have shown that this program has been effective in achieving these targets. Feedback from ACED’s partner schools speak of how grades have improved for many of the children. A positive increase in the students’ class participation, enthusiasm, and level of motivation were reported by their teachers. Parents of beneficiaries also shared noticeable improvements in their children’s physical state and overall well-being.
All this has been made possible through the generous and heartwarming support of various organizations, groups, and individuals. These donors rallied behind the belief that no child deserves to go to sleep hungry, and that addressing hunger and malnutrition was a crucial step to improving educational outcomes and essentially providing them a better future. ACED’s Food Packs program presently has 5,000 beneficiaries and the dream is to expend these efforts further as ACED invites everyone to join the ever-important fight against hunger.
For more information on the ACED Food Packs program, please contact Mrs. Amelia P. Dycoco through email@example.com. To support the program, you may purchase ACED Christmas e-cards for a donation of at least P120. P120 is enough to augment the meals of beneficiaries for one week.
For more details, you may visit https://tinyurl.com/ACEDChristmas2022.