Sunday, January 30, 2011

Helping end Philippine hunger: Red Cross and the Food Donation Act

The Food Donation Act was one of the bills that I worked on as part of Senator Richard Gordon's staff. My work back then was to attend the hearings and write an endless series of press releases about it along with other writers.  The bill was actually filed at a time around 2009 when the country was faced with what was called a food shortage and just after another series of devastating typhoons visited the country.

I don't even want to recount the number of hours it took to write news release after news release and finding out the next day that not a single word of it had been printed.  

And even as I try to remember, my thoughts wander about thinking of how Gordon, members of his legislative staff, the researchers, political liaisons, supporters, and other people kept on pushing for the bill when no one really cared.

I'm just happy that it is finally being implemented.

Here's some information about it from a note I was tagged in on Facebook:
Yesterday (January 25), the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), headed by Chairman and CEO Richard J. Gordon, formally initiated its food donation drive in accordance with the implementation of R.A. 9803, or better known as the Food Donation Act of 2009—a law which Gordon authored during his time in the Senate. 
Together with the PRC Community Health and Nursing and Livelihood teams, Gordon personally went to three different restaurants—Eng Bee Tin in Ongpin, Felix in Makati, and a fine dining restaurant in Manila which prefers to be unnamed—to collect essentially wholesome food items, which they later on distributed, through PRC's "Hot Meals on Wheels," to several depressed areas here in Metro Manila.
In totality, more than a hundred hunger-stricken persons were served through this activity, particularly in the areas of Escolta, Manila, Tondo, Manila, and J.P. Rizal St., Makati City. And among the meals served were: Adobo Fried Rice with Chicken Bits, Tinola, Soup with Malunggay Leaves, Arrozcaldo, Pancit, and few assorted snacks.
In line with the said occasion, PRC was able to immerse itself to one particular depressed area in Tondo; and there the team was able to identify 6 of the poorest families in the site—including one family living under a filthy bridge, and one family living by the river banks.
Given the said vulnerable families' rather formidable predicament, PRC Project Management Office's Assistant Project Manager, Dr. Lydia Pedernal herself offered to help them by taking them in PRC's proposed livelihood program.
The said livelihood program will basically be based in PRC's property in Marikina City, where prospected beneficiaries will temporarily reside up until the end of the training program. Afterwards, PRC aims to lend the graduates of this program a starting capital, to once and for all jumpstart their businesses and put their newly-acquired knowledge into good use.
"As I said before, we are not fostering dependence here," said Gordon as a follow up statement regarding the livelihood program discussed by Pedernal.
He added, "So, in order to help our countrymen who are suffering hunger, we are also incorporating livelihood sessions that would not only serve as a chance for them to live a better life, but also as a venue for them to uplift their human dignity as citizens of this country."

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