An initiative of Dr Donald Van Cooten in partnership with World Relief Australia

Changing a Feeding Program into a Sustainable Food Production Enterprise

Example 1. Feeding program for street kids (Philippines)

A feeding program for street kids has been operating in Manila (Philippines) for more than 20 years. Each day at least 300 children who live on the streets in abject poverty are given a meal and access to toilets and showers. This program has helped many children over the years. These children, however, continue to live on the streets and the program is totally dependent upon donations. Some of the children have sponsors so they are able to leave the streets and attend school but there are a limited number of sponsors and, so, not all the children can be helped.

The local NGO is facing donor fatigue as donors are mostly only willing to give for limited periods of time or on special occasions such as Christmas. The NGO also realises that their feeding program is not a solution to the problem because the children return each day to the street.

The ‘Breaking the Hunger Cycle Initiative’ recently came alongside this NGO and encouraged them to invest their limited financial resources into growing nutritious food for their feeding program. As their urban property had very limited access for creating garden beds, they initially built a roof-top garden. This garden provides some food for the street kids and also plays a theraputic role in their lives as they can escape the madness of the street while tending their plots.

Access to farm land was needed if this NGO was to grow enough food for their entire feeding program. Having a market-garden away from the city would not only provide food but also an opportunity for children to escape the bad influences encountered while living on the streets. Sponsors were excited by this solution and supported the purchase of a 5 ha farm where an integrated farming enterprise could be developed. In future, food for the feeding program will be sourced from the farm and any excess will be the basis for starting social enterprises.

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Example 2. Feeding program for school children (Solomon Islands)

Children attending a primary school were malnourished which resulted in poor attendance and lack of concentration in class. Sponsors supported a daily feeding program which provided nutrient-enhanced biscuits to the children. The feeding program was a success in that the children were more active and attentive at school. The money, however, ran out to buy these expensive, imported biscuits. Another issue with this program was that it modelled to the community that good nutrition is found in buying packaged, imported food rather than consuming fresh produce from local gardens.

The ‘Breaking the Hunger Cycle Initiative’ approached the school and offered to help develop vegetable gardens and an orchard in the school grounds as well as an animal husbandry enterprise using egg-laying chickens. As a result, the school is now able to provide a cooked meal every day ustilising the produce of the gardens and including eggs from their own chickens. Excess eggs are sold to further fund the enterprise.  Healthy eating classes are included in the curriculum so that children and their families are taught how to prepare nutritious meals from locally sourced produce. Children take their animal husbandry skills back to their own villages. Undoubtedly many schools around the world would benefit from such a program.

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