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Stories from the Field

Better World Tondo Food Bank Feeds Children And Empowers Women Like Elizabeth in the Philippines

By Hannah Payne on February 6, 2024

Rise Against Hunger is working to end hunger in remote, last-mile communities around the world — including in the Philippines. Almost 45% of the Philippines’ population faces food insecurity, and Rise Against Hunger is addressing this critical issue, serving more than 1.73 million people in the country each year. 

With our impact partners, International Care Ministries and Convoy of Hope, and international office Rise Against Hunger Philippines, we support both immediate nutritional needs and locally led, long-term solutions through a variety of programs. Over the next few months, we’re sharing stories of real impact from these programs — like the food bank at Better World Tondo community center. 

In the heart of Tondo, one of the poorest districts in metro Manila, real change is happening at Better World Tondo. Watch the video below to hear more and keep reading to learn how Better World Tondo is impacting the community, empowering women and supporting children’s education and nutrition. 

Started in 2019, Better World Tondo is part of Rise Against Hunger Philippines’ Good Food Grocer, the first-ever food bank in the country. According to Leni Rose Renton, the program lead at Rise Against Hunger Philippines, “Food banking is a development program, which aims to address hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity… We call it the Good Food Grocer because we believe that good food is for all.”

The food bank operates a grocery store experience that enables community members to collect fresh produce, shelf-stable food, and other items to take home. This enables the community members to not only nourish their families, but also to save money that they can use to address other needs. “Instead of buying the food that they will eat or the grocery items for the month, it is saved for other needs of the family, like the education of the children, the utilities and other needs,” Leni explained.

Better World Tondo also provides hot lunches to over 400 primary school students. The children come from nearby schools to receive the meals each day. Many families in Tondo face food insecurity, but government school feeding programs only last three months, leaving a gap. The food bank fills this gap, supporting children’s nutritional needs throughout the school year. This also supports their education as it enables the children to better focus on their studies. 

The students’ hot lunches are all prepared by mothers, like Elizabeth, who serve as volunteer cooks. 

Elizabeth, mother and volunteer cook

Elizabeth, age 52, has volunteered at Better World Tondo for four years, starting when her son was a recipient of the food bank’s meals. He has moved to secondary school and graduated from the feeding program, but Elizabeth continues to volunteer, saying, “I am happy because we can help through cooking for those people in the areas we went.”

Elizabeth does more than prepare meals, too. In 2023, the volunteer cooks were empowered to start a mushroom livelihood program, with Elizabeth helping to lead the locally led initiative. Check out the video below to hear firsthand from Elizabeth about the program!

The mothers grow mushrooms at Better World Tondo and use the harvest to make mushroom chips. They then package and sell the chips to visitors and nearby schools. They divide the income among themselves, with Elizabeth and the others using the money to support their families. “In this past two months, [we have earned] approximately 20 or 18,000, 18,000 pesos [from selling mushrooms],” Elizabeth said. 

The work to end hunger starts with a meal, but it doesn’t end there. At Better World Tondo, it leads to empowerment, nutrition, education and more. This impact is just some of the positive change happening in the Philippines and around the world as Rise Against Hunger works to end global hunger. Support solutions to end hunger by donating today!