Civic groups and the private sector collaborated to create Project Karinderya, the homegrown version of a soup kitchen that seeks to provide relief to hunger many Filipinos at grassroots level have been subjected to due to the pandemic.
Project Karinderya was organized to help provide access to safe food in affected communities and sustain livelihood of small entrepreneurs most affected by COVID-19.
“Aside from ensuring food access in depressed communities, the hope is for Project Karinderya to help ensure that local economic activities in the target communities can continue, especially as these karinderyas have had to stop their operations when the lockdowns were put in place,” said Jollibee Group Foundation executive director Gisela Tiongson.
The Jollibee Group Foundation provides training on food preparation, food safety and customer service to empower and capacitate karinderya owners.
The project aims not only to feed the increasing number of families who have no means of surviving the pandemic, but also extends a helping hand to micro-food enterprises or the so-called karinderyas to help them survive and recover their source of income.
Project Karinderya started in April 2020 along with the creation of the COVID-19 Civil Society Sector Organizations and Private Sector Coalition or NGO Collab.
These groups realized the need for coordinated efforts to address the problems on food access and livelihoods in affected communities in Metro Manila. From April to May 2020, NGO Collab conducted a survey on food and cash aid received during the quarantine among representatives of 141 barangays across seven priority cities in Metro Manila. The survey found that about 62 percent of respondents said that the food packs they received were insufficient for their family’s needs.
The Kabuhayan sa Ganap na Kasarinlan Credit and Savings Cooperative (K-Coop), a microfinance institution that is part of the NGO Collab, also did a rapid survey on the impact of the pandemic among its members in urban poor communities. Of the survey’s 3,296 respondents, 75 percent said they lost their source of income, while 21 percent said that their income was reduced due to the pandemic. Meanwhile, 87 percent of the respondents said they were not able to meet their needs. Most of the micro-entrepreneur members of K-Coop are owners and operators of karinderyas.
It was Bayanihan Musikahan, a member of the K-Coop, that came up with the concept to keep the karinderyas alive and help distribute food in urban poor communities. Bayanihan Musikahan invited Jollibee Group Foundation to help develop the idea further given the Foundation’s breadth of experience in efficiently managing food service systems through its Busog, Lusog, Talino (BLT) School Feeding Program. K-Coop on the other hand readily offered to pilot the approach in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City, which is one of the most populous barangays in Metro Manila.
“Communities have existing systems to deal with the challenges they face. The role of outside groups such as JGF [Jollibee Group Foundation], KDCI [Kasagana-ka Development Center, Inc.], and even K-Coop should be to help enhance or strengthen these systems rather than imposing new ones that tend to disrupt if not displace traditional coping mechanisms,” said K-Coop general manager Maria Ana de Rosas-Ignacio.
“Karinderyas in urban poor communities are ideal partners in making safe and well-prepared meals easily accessible to families suffering from hunger brought about by the pandemic,” she said.
These ideas led to Project Karinderya. Under this initiative, every karinderya that is part of the project serves meals to 20 families in their community for a period of 30 days. Families receive vouchers which they use to claim the food from the karinderyas. K-Coop and its affiliate, KDCI, screen the participating karinderyas and also select the beneficiary families most in need in the community.
The initial pilot of this project was in Calawis, Antipolo supported by Rotary Club of Makati San Lorenzo, while another pilot led by the Samahan ng Nagkakaisiang Pamilyang Pantawid continues to be supported by Bayanihan Musikahan, Philippines Business for Social Progress and Jollibee Group Foundation. Consuelo Foundation and Peace and Equity Foundation have each funded a project site in Bulacan and Quezon City, respectively.
As of November 2020, Project Karinderya has served 30-day meal subsidies in the form of meal vouchers to 1,000 families through 50 karinderyas. Currently, 240 more karinderyas are providing meals to 4,800 families until December.
The expansion was made possible with the support of Singapore-based Temasek Foundation and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development through the DEG (German Investment Corporation). Both international agencies provided grants for the meal subsidy of family beneficiaries.
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