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Stories from the Field

Bungkol Elementary’s School Feeding Program Nourishes 282 Students in the Philippines

By Hannah Payne on March 5, 2024

With almost 45% of the population facing food insecurity, alleviating hunger in the Philippines is of vital importance. 

Rise Against Hunger works alongside partners International Care Ministries and Convoy of Hope and global network member Rise Against Hunger Philippines to address this, serving more than 1.73 million people in the country annually.

One way Rise Against Hunger addresses this critical issue is by supporting school feeding programs. 29% of children in the Philippines are affected by stunted growth, and school meals — like those served at Bungkol Elementary School — support children’s nutrition and education.   

Bungkol Elementary is located a short walk away from Rise Against Hunger Philippines’ Good Food Farm in Magdalena, Laguna. 282 students from kindergarten through grade 6 attend the school. Watch the video below to hear more and keep reading to learn how these children are receiving both an education and critical nourishment to support their futures! 

All 282 students receive daily nutritious meals, provided by Rise Against Hunger Philippines, and kindergartners receive meals twice a day. The meals are prepared and served by mothers who serve as volunteer cooks — like Josephine. 

Josephine Villapando, mother and volunteer cook

With two children attending Bungkol Elementary, Josephine has volunteered as a cook for the past year. She says, “I am proud to cook because I know that it is not just my children. It is not only my children being nourished, but also all the 282 children who we feed here.”

She has seen changes in her children, saying, “My child’s weight before was underweight. Then, as they continued eating in the feeding program, I was surprised that his age and his weight are now balanced.” With her children’s nutritional needs supported, she dreams of bright futures for her children. “My hopes for my two children, and to all the students here, is that they graduate from their studies, reach their dreams, so that when they get there, they can succeed more,” she says. 

The Rise Against Hunger Philippines meals are just the beginning of how this school supports the children’s nutritional needs. In addition to the school meals, the students receive weekly take-home rations for their families.  

Bungkol also has a robust garden, which the school was inspired to start after seeing Rise Against Hunger Philippines’ Good Food Farm. The school now grows eggplant, malunggay, cassava, snow cabbage, mustard greens and more.  

The garden represents a cost savings for the school, as it no longer needs to purchase vegetables. The cooks add the garden’s vegetables to further enrich the students’ meals. Maria Lourdes, the principal, explains, “The vegetables in the garden like sitaw (string beans), okra, talong or eggplant, the malunggay or the moringa… We use them in our feeding program.”

Maria Lourdes Z. Timbreza, school principal

Maria Lourdes is happy to see how the meals have led to increased attendance and improved academic performance. She says, “Since last year, the pupils have normal weight and it helps a lot that they are… with their attendance. They are regularly going to school because they are so excited with the feeding program.”

She continues, “As their mother in the school, I love to see them, that they are healthy, that their dreams will come true.” She is hopeful for the students’ futures, including 10-year-old Leigh Matthew. 

Leigh Matthew, student 

In grade 6, Leigh Matthew loves school and his favorite subject is English. “I like going to school because I can meet my friends and play games with them and learn.”

The school meals support his nutrition and education, which then supports his bright future! A creative child, Leigh Matthew has big dreams, saying, “I want to be an artist… like drawing flowers… Something futuristic or something cute.”

You can support bright futures for children, like those at Bungkol Elementary, around the world! Donate today to provide urgent meals for people facing hunger and help create long-term, locally led solutions to hunger.