We have done many feeding programs in the past on behalf of marketmanila.com, its readers, and for Zubuchon. But oddly, we had never done them right in our own backyard… the barangay in which we have our offices and commissary. So this year, we decided to focus on providing meals to the three day care centers in Barangay Capitol Site, Cebu. A total of 300 kids are enrolled in these day care centers, out of a Barangay population of roughly 15,000+ residents. We normally do feeding programs that run for months, if not the entire school year, but this particular event was an assembled Christmas treat for 300 kids all at once outside the local barangay hall.
The trick was how to feed 300 quickly and in an orderly fashion in less than 30 minutes. The answer is to pre-pack the lunches (their request), have packaged juices and desserts and mobilize 30 volunteer Zubuchon employees to do the logistics and distribution. Honestly, everyone was so ON IT that we were done in 20 minutes or so.
I regret that we used styrofoam containers at this event. I know it was cheaper and convenient, but usually we use paper plates or re-usable melamine for programs with repeated feedings at one location. And you will cringe when you hear what the food was — home-cooked fried chicken, spaghetti and rice. We asked the kids in advance what they wanted and that’s what they got. No nutritionally balanced food this time around. But then again, it’s the holidays, and it was supposed to be a treat!
Three hundred kids sitting at tables waiting for food seems like a recipe for disaster, but I must say they were extremely well-behaved. We managed to get the food out with lightning speed and everyone seemed to wolf down most of their lunch quickly… I think it helped that they were told to eat before Santa would distribute more goodies…
Meanwhile, Santa up top had to change in an alley nearby. Dario, one of our Branch Managers was the volunteer Santa for the day. Egads, that costume is very, very HOT in the midday heat and humidity! :)
Santa gave out some modest loot bags with toys and candy and the kids were on their way, just 30 minutes after we started. It seemed a bit less personal than other smaller feeding programs we have run, but there was still that same joy in sharing… And when you are cleaning up and a 4 or 5 year boy insists on coming up on his own, tugging on your pants to get your attention and when you look at him, he smiles and just says “thank you” with that complete air of genuineness, for a brief moment your heart melts, and you know the holidays are well and truly here…
In addition to the feeding program, we will be donating children’s books to the local day care centers and reading center in 2017, and perhaps participate in reading programs for the kids.