Human movement can be limited in these trying times, but the bayanihan we can do can be endless.
AGREA Foundation distributed healthy food packs to 1,100 families last 26 August 2020 at the Project Pearls Learning Center, Barangay Batia in Bocaue, Bulacan. To make this distribution possible – 5,000 kilos of rice, vegetables, and fruits were sourced from AGREA’s Move Food Initiative partner-farmers in Nueva Ecija and Majayjay in Laguna. This initiative was sponsored by Corteva and in partnership with AGREA System International, and Project PEARLS.
Through the Washington DC-based GlobalGiving platform, Corteva awarded AGREA Agricultural Communities International Foundation, Inc. a grant in the amount of ($200,000) to implement its programs for 2020: Leaders and Entrepreneurs in Agriculture Forum (LEAF) – its banner program for youth in agriculture, and Finding Opportunities and Roles of Women in Agriculture and Rural Development (forWard) – its banner program for women in agriculture.
In light of the current health crisis, some of the programs planned for this year’s implementation were moved to next year, or were changed to fit the current learning scenario. AGREA Foundation proposed in reallocating some grant funds towards COVID-19 response, through AGREA Systems’ program: the Move Food Initiative.
Move Food Initiative came to life 3 days after the nationwide lockdown in the Philippines. It is an online fresh food ordering platform, that ensures to move food at both producers and consumers end. This initiative helps farmers who have problem in moving food to their markets, ensures that consumers can have access to affordable healthy food, and leads in the distribution of healthy food packs to different communities in need.
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As of August 15, 2020 – the initiative was able to move: 177, 330 kilos of fruits and vegetables; delivered to 70, 527 Filipino families; helped 20, 182 Filipino smallholder-farmers, partnered with and donated 4,594 kilos of food to 10 kitchens feeding front-liners, and delivered 154 GrowKits for urban agriculture.
(L inset) AGREA and Project PEARLS Team packing 1100 healthy food packs. (Center) 1100 healthy food packs ready for distribution.
Why Project PEARLS?
Project PEARLS is on a mission to help the poorest children and families to have a better life through education, literacy, nutrition, healthcare, empowerment and livelihood. The organization has been helping thousands of urban poor for the last ten years. They have communities in Tondo, Cavite, and Bulacan.
Since 2013, Project PEARLS has been helping more than 400 families relocated from Ulingan, Vitas Tondo to St. Martha Estate Homes Batia in Bocaue Bulacan. Project PEARLS helps and sustain the living condition of these families through the following programs:
- Education thru scholarship to 489 scholars (2020 data)
- Livelihood thru GROW, empowering mothers and women
- Nourishment thru feeding; Hunger Relief Program (1800 persons per week).
(Left) Move Food Initiative Healthy Food Pack Barangay Tanod recipients. (Right) Move Food Initiative Healthy Food Pack LitMoms Group recipients.
All of the 1100 beneficiaries in Project PEARLS Bulacan were affected by the lockdown due to the COVID-19 health crisis. Breadwinners of most families lost their jobs. Each family in this community is composed of 3 to 8 family members, and some are single parents too. These beneficiaries belong to group of: scholars and non-scholars, hardworking mothers, construction workers, barangay tanod, home owners association members, and children.
Some of the Move Food Initiative Healthy Food Pack recipients. A total of 1200 people received healthy meals through the healthy fruits and vegetables we have provided.
The following were sourced from AGREA’s Move Food Initiative partner-farmers, and were delivered to Project PEARLS community in Batia, Bulacan:
- 2,200 kilos of rice from Nueva Ecija
- 550 kilos of monggo from Maguindanao
- 1,100 pieces of squash from Nueva Ecija
- 550 kilos of saba from Majayjay Laguna
- 1,100 ecobags from Corteva
- 275 kilograms of white onion
- 275 kilograms of garlic
AGREA Team (in black t-shirts), with Mr. Nestor Dalina (center in blue shirt) - Project PEARLS Bulacan Head.
Project PEARLS Hunger Relief Program
Nourishment thru feeding; Hunger Relief Program (1800 persons per week). Through our partnership and help, 1200 people, mostly children received healthy meals for the past week.
Healthy monggo with kalabasa and malunggay soup served to 600 people for the Hunger Relief Program. The veggies were from the Move Food Initiative Healthy Food Pack.
Why healthy food packs?
The Filipino resilience is known to the world. However, from typhoons, droughts, volcanic eruption, and now in this pandemic – there’s a trend of distributing instant and processed food to the people. This has been a norm, but this norm is ironic. These troubled times should be a time where we are strong in body and spirit. Fresh and healthy food should be available and accessible to everyone.
This trend had caught the concern of some leaders in the Philippines during COVID. Food producers are having a hard time to move their healthy food, while consumers only have access to processed and instant food.
Local Government Units have bought fresh and healthy food from the farmers, and distributed these to their constituents, instead of the usual instant and processed food. Private sectors have also taken the lead on this as part of their CSR (corporate social responsibility). They tapped initiatives (like the Move Food Initiative) to prepare thousands of healthy food packs for distribution to urban poor communities.
Healthy food packs should be the trend not just during this health crisis, but in every troubled time it could be relevant and serve its purpose.