Abby Binay to provide free meals to Makati public school kids
MANILA, Philippines – Makati Mayor Abby Binay has revealed her plan to provide public schoolchildren in the city with free meals in school to lessen the burden of parents and promote proper nutrition among the youth.
The mayor said she has directed education officials to do a thorough study on how the additional benefit can be integrated into the current program, Project FREE (Free Relevant and Excellent Education), and implemented in the city’s public schools.
“As a mother, I can empathize with parents worrying about being able to provide enough allowance for their children so they won’t go hungry while in school. But instead of giving them the traditional ‘baon’ in cash, we will give free meals,” Mayor Abby said.
“With this added benefit, we would lessen the financial burden of parents and, at the same time, address malnutrition among our students,” she explained.
The mayor said the city government would see to it that free meals served to students would be nutritious and balanced to promote their well-being and enhance their learning abilities.
“We will consult qualified nutritionist-dietitians in preparing the meal plan. We want our students to be well-nourished to have the energy and the mental acuity to perform well, if not excel, in class and outdoor school activities,” Binay said.
She also expressed hope that through the project, the students would adopt healthful eating habits and refrain from buying street foods, which are unregulated and may pose serious health risks.
The mayor also called on parents to complement the school project with their own efforts to make nutritious meals for their children at home. “Proper nutrition should also be observed at home as well, to optimize the project’s health benefits derived by our students,” she said.
The mayor said the project study also includes the use of produce from organic gardens being maintained in the city’s schools in the preparation of free meals.
Currently, fruits and vegetables harvested from the gardens are being used for the supplementary feeding program for undernourished students. Excess fruits and vegetables are then sold to parents and small eateries nearby, and the proceeds are used by the school to maintain the gardens.
Among the fruits grown in the school gardens are banana, Indian mango, Carabao mango, blackberry, rambutan, guyabano, kiat-kiat, and grapes.
Crops and leafy vegetables grown and used for the everyday feeding program in the schools include garlic, ginger, onion, lemon grass, kalamansi, chili, kamias, bell pepper, basil, malunggay, gabi, talinum, sala, Chinese kangkong, saluyot, petchay, mustard, papaya, okra, eggplant, sweet potato, cabbage, lime beans (bataw), carrots, gourd (patola), butterfly pea, as well as rice grains.
A joint effort of the city with the Department of Education-Makati, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and non-government organizations, the organic urban gardening and vermiculture raising project in the schools aims to create a “substantial and long-term impact on the fight to end hunger and poverty through food sufficiency and entrepreneurship,” according to the mayor.
Project FREE during the first term in office of Mayor Abby has been expanded to include additional benefits, such as a brand new pair of rubber shoes, dubbed ‘Air Binay’ by Makatizens, raincoats and rain boots, hygiene and dental kits, and anti-dengue packages. Previously, the project had provided free school supplies, uniforms and black leather shoes to students.
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