06 Apr2011

It’s hard to imagine that we have just completed the fourth CONSECUTIVE and UNINTERRUPTED year of marketmanila.com feeding programs for undernourished public school children at a school in Taguig and another school in Cebu. I have lost count of the total number of meals provided, but it is probably between 140,000-150,000 complete meals. Many thanks to the generous donations of readers of marketmanila.com, large private donors like the restaurant Mamou that have provided phenomenal support every year, Marketman’s family and friends. It’s a program that has really meant a lot to me and my family, but more importantly, to the students/recipients of the meals provided. It is absolutely PROOF POSITIVE that from small ideas, kernels of inspiration, the collective power of a relative few (perhaps 400-500 donors total) generous people, we were able to deliver what is a fairly staggering number of meals. This blog is roughly 6.5 years old (2,400 days), so another way to look at this is that we managed to provide a nutritionally complete meal, completely free of charge, every 23 minutes (or 62 meals a day, every single day) for 6.5 years! :) And less than 1/10th of 1% of all the visitors to marketmanila.com (who have read 10 or more posts) donated to the feeding program…

Our crew, the Teen, Mrs. MM and I recently visited the feeding program in Taguig and took these photos. The Teen cooked/baked something for the kids (spaghetti one day, cupcakes another) in addition to their regular meals. She was a bit overwhelmed when she realized spaghetti sauce for like 150 people is a massive amount of stuff to stir, not to mention the noodles!

Readers may not recall this, but Marketman actually got inspired to sponsor these feeding programs after The Teen, then The Kid, was involved in a feeding program in Grade 5 or 6 at the age of 10 or 11. At the time, her task was to come up with a nutritionally balanced meal for PHP15 or less and we spent time in the kitchen experimenting with dishes. So she’s been at this longer than I have! But we find it useful to revisit the schools as often as possible to remind ourselves that the vast majority of the Philippine population is not getting a sufficient quality and variety of nutritional intake…

All of the kids on these programs are classified as being SERIOUSLY underweight for their age. They receive three full meals per week, more if the budget allows.

All of them wish to express their gratitude and thanks to the generous donors from marketmanila.com, and I can tell you, they mean it from the bottom of their hearts. Unfortunately, this marks the end of the marketmanila.com feeding program for now. The administration, collection of funds, disbursement, monitoring, etc. took a lot of effort, far more than I had envisioned. And several staff helped me in this endeavor and we feel it is time to move on to other things, charitable ones included. I encourage readers to pursue simple basic charitable endeavors whenever possible… they do indeed make a difference.

I was out of town when we received a call that Marketman, on behalf of his readers, was invited to the recent awards ceremony at the Tenement Elementary School to receive a plaque of appreciation. I sent a representative instead, and he accepted the plaque above on behalf of all the generous donors to the marketmanila.com feeding program. This is how we do things around here. No flashing lights and PR releases. But 150,000 full meals in four years. That’s pretty darned good for a commercial free food blog with an occasional service rant/outburst. Pat, pat, pat on everyone’s collective backs. Maraming, maraming salamat!!! :)



  1. Bubut says:

    4 consecutive years is not a joke! MM, readers, and sponsors deserve a big round of applause.

    Apr 6, 2011 | 2:29 pm


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  3. millet says:

    a toast to MM and family, the crew and to all the donors and readers! most of all, good luck to all the kids! this is so inspiring, and a public school feeding program is certainly on top of my list of things to do soon. hugs to everyone!

    Apr 6, 2011 | 2:40 pm

  4. emsy says:

    super like! more power mm!

    Apr 6, 2011 | 2:44 pm

  5. Kate says:

    This is amazing, MM :) Thank you for sharing!

    Apr 6, 2011 | 3:06 pm

  6. jay p says:

    Bravo MM!

    so no more program? is there any other system in place to continue for donation?

    also do let us know what the next plan is :)

    Apr 6, 2011 | 4:38 pm

  7. shiko says:

    awww I was wondering if this was still going! I would have wanted to donate even the small amount I can afford. If you know of any other trustworthy and noble programs accepting donations, Marketman, I for one would really appreciate the information. :)

    Apr 6, 2011 | 4:42 pm

  8. Carol says:

    Thanks for the opportunity to be able to help even in a small way through this worthy endeavor! I hope the parents of these children will now be able to sustain the healthy feeding of their children after 4 years that they have been in the feeding program.

    Apr 6, 2011 | 5:05 pm

  9. Maria Isabel Rodrigo says:

    You don’t only share ideas, you also share meals too. God bless you and your family.

    Apr 6, 2011 | 5:34 pm

  10. Connie C says:

    The plaque speaks for itself. A virtual thunderous applause for MM and family and those who supported the program!

    Many children and their families will continue to need support like MM’s now recently discontinued feeding program. Hopefully, as the trend for organic farming and small scale farming continues, the Philippines will somehow work its way toward achieving “food democracy” and ease the hunger and poverty that plagues so many.


    “Food prices around the world are surging. Between July of last year and this January alone, the price of wheat has doubled. Indeed, the cost of food has now passed the record levels of 2008, when angry citizens staged huge protests in dozens of countries. Currently, protesters across the Middle East include lowering food prices among their demands. When prices go up even a bit, millions more people starve.

    The local organic farmers with whom we have been spending time in the Philippines and elsewhere are less affected by these price swings precisely because they consume much of what they harvest, and they sell the rest to local markets. These farmers have achieved at the household level what Frances Moore Lappé terms “food democracy,” and what the small farmer coalition, Via Campesina, calls “food sovereignty” at a national level.

    A country has “food sovereignty” when its people consume safe and nutritious food largely grown by their own small farmers. Significantly fewer countries sustain this sovereignty today than a generation ago. The reigning development model pushed by World Bank and other experts has left many countries exporting more cash crops like flowers and gourmet vegetables, and importing more of their staple foods. ”

    “There is a great deal that governments can do to boost such rooted, sustainable farms, from investing in irrigation and retraining agricultural extension workers, to rejecting trade agreements that pry open food markets. “

    Apr 6, 2011 | 7:02 pm

  11. monique ignacio says:

    This is just so wonderful! May you continue to be blessed with all things that truly matter Market Manila.

    Apr 6, 2011 | 7:27 pm

  12. tonceq says:

    Congratulations Marketmanila and all of it’s readers! I only wish I had started reading Marketmanila when this was implemented! So… what’s the next plan MM? :)

    Apr 6, 2011 | 9:21 pm

  13. Ari says:

    I nominated you at http://www.saveur.com/2011-best-food-blog-nominations.jsp for Best Regional Food Blog. You should post a campaign. Nominations end April 22. Best of luck!

    Apr 6, 2011 | 11:00 pm

  14. allen says:

    Kudos to you and your family MM..may God bless you all :)

    Apr 6, 2011 | 11:05 pm

  15. Connie C says:

    Just a thought. We have a saying that “walang tumatanggi sa anumang biyaya”, and those youngsters have a lot to thank for in MM’s feeding program, but don’t I wish those kids were partaking of brown rice instead of the white. The children will surely get 30% more nutrients, but then, we have a long way to go to get many to switch to the healthier option.

    Thailand, Japan and Korea have successfully cultivated and grown rice varieties that have improved flavor and thus palatability. Others who shun brown rice think it inferior and for barrio folks only who cannot afford the polishing in modern rice mills. What a shame.

    In some households I know, the brown rice was reserved for the house help and servants.

    Apr 7, 2011 | 1:02 am

  16. Matilda says:

    Maintaining a blog this good for 6 and a half years is already an achievement… and 150,000 meals for a feeding program is another feat. Congratulations to you MM, your family and staff. May God continue to bless you with good health (and maintain the Daniel Craig shape, haha) for many more years to come. If in the future you will continue the feeding program, let us know, this site is just a click away, anyway!

    Apr 7, 2011 | 1:06 am

  17. kerbeth says:

    How can we join this worthwhile project?

    Apr 7, 2011 | 8:13 am

  18. Mart says:

    Just now hearing about the feeding program. I want in! May updated donation details po ba kayo? I’m here in the US and, reading through the related posts, si sir Ted ata yung nango-ngolekta ng donations through Paypal?
    Ang alam ko sa Paypal puwedeng mag-“subscribe” to monthly recurring donations.

    Hindi ko din sure kung meron na sa Pinas ng similar program pero meron din dito sa US na parang colalition of food banks. Second Harvest yung pangalan.
    (website link here: http://feedingamerica.org/)
    In a nutshell, the cash donations they receive mostly go towards the transportation costs of food items donated by farms and grocery chains (e.g. some canned goods that are still good but have only maybe 2-3 months left on their expiry date). So yung projected “feeding power” of the donation is $1 equals about 2-4 meals.

    So actually, “more bang for your buck” ang cash donation to them than buying a can of something from the grocery and putting it in a donation bin. iirc, A lot of grocery chains donate their stock (for tax break purposes) and most times the problem is transporting that stock to from the supply warehouses to the food banks.

    Apr 7, 2011 | 8:43 am

  19. Jeff says:

    Very nice MM! Bravo and Kudos to you, your crew and your family!

    Apr 7, 2011 | 8:51 am

  20. Meg says:

    A big thumbs up to everyone :)

    Apr 7, 2011 | 10:12 am

  21. nina says:

    congrats, MM! It’s sayang you have to end this now.

    Anyhow, i just want to say that malnutrition, while greatly caused by low income, is also brought about by poor food choices. I am disappointed that the government, DOH endorses vitamin fortified instant noodles when they can do better at educating people in eating healthy. Why not promote mongo and other natural and healthier alternatives that are just as cheap instead of instant noodles? I singled out mongo coz i was amazed how a small uncooked portion could yield to a large quantity when cooked, thus making it relatively cheap to buy.

    Apr 7, 2011 | 10:19 am

  22. roland says:

    this is just pure greatness — good job bro!

    Apr 7, 2011 | 3:12 pm

  23. cumin says:

    150,000 meals is ginormous, I can’t even imagine the amount of work that entailed from you, crew, and school volunteers. The meals must also have been an incentive to children from poor families to continue going to school, instead of dropping out. As such, a shame to stop now — but I totally respect your decision. Perhaps readers interested in supporting feeding programmes can donate to groups like Assisi Foundation, a very low key NGO with amazing reach, which supports feeding programmes for elementary school children.

    Apr 7, 2011 | 3:56 pm

  24. chibi says:

    I was just thinking if marketmanila still holds its regular feeding program and found this post. It’s a shame that I have been able to donate only once =( – which was like 2 or 3 years ago, as I have carelessly diverted my extra funds somewhere else =|. Nevertheless, I would like to congratulate you, MM, and the rest of marketmanila staff and readers!!

    Apr 7, 2011 | 4:35 pm

  25. Lesley says:

    Hi MM, I have been following your blog for about a year or so now. This particular post caught my attention because me and my friends are just planning to start a long-term feeding program this June, for a community in San Juan. Hope you can share some tips/advice from your 4 years of experience. Thank you and God bless you more!!!

    Apr 7, 2011 | 5:23 pm

  26. maron says:

    kudos to marketman and fellow readers!!!

    good luck to the next 150,000 meals!

    Apr 7, 2011 | 8:22 pm

  27. Marketman says:

    Lesley, first you have to have sufficient funds, enough to sustain a program for a reasonable length of time. Second, you may want to involve parents as volunteers to cook the meals to minimize costs. Third, you may have to purchase the equipment needed for a feeding kitchen (stoves, pots and pans, serving utensils, etc.). Fourth, you need to outline what the meals will contain (viand or protein and vegetable, rice, fruit, etc.) and cost out an average meal (say PHP20-25 today). Fifth, you need to have a trusted counterpart administer the meals and ensure the recipients are the most deserving. Sixth, the funds have to be released in small tranches to prevent misuse. Seventh, active monitoring and recording of meals served is very useful. Eigth, continuity of attendance for kids over the school year is important and we found that the meals resulted in a very good improvement in attendance rate for classes.

    If you want to run a program for say 50 kids and three meals a week, the cost of food alone would be roughly PHP3,750 per week, times a 40-42 week year, that is PHP157,500 minimum + administrative time and expenses. Of course you could reduce the meal to say lugaw or sandwiches, but while this is better than nothing, it is not actually a nutritionally complete meal…

    Nina, I agree poor food choices are a serious problem. I can often think of nutritious meals for less money than a fastfood piece of chicken with rice. Why the vast majority of hourly wage earners think they are doing themselves a service by buying fast food is beyond me.

    maron and kerbeth, the program has ended (isn’t that clear from the write up?) so there is no way to “join” or have the next 150,000 meals…

    Connie, oddly, brown or red rice in Manila is often much more expensive than white rice, so the default lower cost choice is white. But I agree there are lots of ways to improve these meals. But ultimately, if everyone only chose to have the kids they could afford to raise with food, education and shelter, then this wouldn’t be as big of a problem. Overpopulation is a MAJOR PROBLEM in my opinion… but I don’t want to get started on that harangue again. :)

    Apr 8, 2011 | 6:24 am

  28. Lesley says:

    Thanks for this overview! Truly appreciate it :)

    Apr 8, 2011 | 12:30 pm

  29. kerbeth says:

    In case you plan to do another project, count me in.

    Apr 8, 2011 | 5:18 pm

  30. Connie C says:

    Is red or brown rice perhaps more expensive because they are produced in lower quantities and/or are the imported better varieties with better palatability index which tend to be more expensive anyway? I know I buy the imported Thai brand in ‘Pinas when I can’t get the specially ordered ones from the rice mill. We should find out why.

    Yes, we all need better education on the food we put on our tables.

    Apr 8, 2011 | 7:51 pm

  31. Best Food In Town says:

    This is awesome, you’re such an inspiration, and the reason why i decided to create my own Food Blog. Please send me a message regarding your future projects. I want to help in my own Little Ways!

    Apr 10, 2011 | 8:13 pm

  32. nina says:

    Congratulations, MM, to your family and your staff. Four years of successful feeding program is quite an achievement!

    Apr 17, 2011 | 7:20 pm

  33. sheila says:

    hi there!

    i was surfing the net looking for ways on how to do a feeding program/charity program for my birthday and had stumbled upon your site. congratulations on your site. it is up to date and very informative. it is a fun-read indeed! :)

    i was wondering if you are still holding feeding programs and if you are, would you mind sending me a message on how i would be able to help? it would be a good birthday present for myself.


    Oct 12, 2011 | 3:30 pm


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