10,000 grade-school pupils benefited from Pagcor feeding program
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) reported on Friday that more than 10,000 public grade-school pupils have benefitted from the agency’s feeding program this school year.
For School Year 2013-2014, Pagcor said it allocated P45 million for the program, which was conducted in 173 public elementary schools nationwide.
“Pagcor’s Feeding Program is the state-owned gaming firm’s way to help provide the nutritional needs of underweight children enrolled in community-based day-care centers and public elementary schools in cities hosting Casino Filipino branches,” the state-gaming firm said in a statement.
“The agency serves nutritious meals to the beneficiaries every day until they attain their ideal weight and improve their health,” it added.
One of the beneficiaries of the program is nine-year-old Juliana Cassandra Encomio, a grade-three pupil of Anuling Elementary School in Mendez and survivor of super typhoon Yolanda.
Juliana moved to Cavite with her family middle of November last year after the typhoon devastated their home in Tacloban City. Their family took refuge in the home of Juliana’s paternal uncle in Cavite to start anew and rebuild their lives there.
“Wala na po kasing natira sa amin. Wasak na wasak po yung bahay namin. Pagka-tapos ng bagyo, marami po yung nagkalat na patay sa labas ng bahay namin. Akala po namin mamamatay kami (There’s nothing left for us. Our house was totally destroyed. After the storm, there are so many corpses outside our hose. We thought we’re going to die),” Juliana recalled.
Being in a new environment helps Juliana forget the tragedy. She savors joining the daily feeding sessions of Pagcor in their school.
“First time ko lang po nasali sa isang feeding program. Sa dati naming school, ang binibigay lang po sa amin ay vitamin supplements (It was my first time to join a feeding program. In my old school, they just gave us vitamin supplements),” she added.
Class adviser Cecilia Panganiban noted the positive changes in Juliana’s behavior after she joined the feeding program.
“Noong una siyang dumating dito sa school namin, tahimik lang si Juliana at kimi tuwing may klase kami. Simula nang isali namin siya sa Pagcor Feeding Program, napansin namin na naging active na siya sa class discussions (When she first came here in our school, Juliana was quiet in our class. Since we joined her in this Pagcor Feeding Program, we observed that she became active in class discussions),” Panganiban said.
Pagcor said included in its program were students who were initially assessed to be “severely wasted” by nutritionists and health workers of the public schools prior to the start of the program’s implementation. These children are underweight for their age.
Priscilla Lo-Allan, over-all coordinator of the Pagcor Feeding Program, said The student-beneficiaries gained as much as four to six pounds at the end of the program.
Allan attributes the significant weight increase of the children to the nutritious and complete meals served to them every day.
“Apart from gaining weight, absenteeism among the beneficiaries was also lessened. Their teachers told us that these children became more attentive, more energetic and participative in class,” she said.
Allan added that the beneficiaries also learned about proper grooming and eating habits.
“The teachers who facilitate the feeding sessions teach them to pray before meals, to wash their hands, and to sit and eat properly. They learned good values and we can see they are now more cheerful,” she noted.
The feeding program is conducted in two batches: the first batch from June to October and the second batch from November to March.
Of the 173 public schools covered by the program this school year, Pagcor said, 54 schools are located in Metro Manila, 30 in Pampanga, 12 in Bacolod, 24 in Cebu, 20 in Davao, 10 in Laoag, Ilocos Norte, 11 in Olongapo, and 12 in Tagaytay.
Employees from Casino Filipino branches also volunteered to take part in the feeding sessions. One of them is Gregorio Eusebio, treasury administrative supervisor of Casino Filipino Pavilion.
“When I entered Pagcor in 1991, hinanap ko talaga (what I really looked for) is voluntary work. I really want to work in a company na may puso, so I joined the medical missions, relief operations and other charity works of Pagcor including the Feeding Program. I have been participating in feeding sessions since it began in 2007,” Eusebio said.
“Yung pagtulong lalo na sa walang makain ang nag-iinspire sa akin kaya ginagawa ko ito. I encourage my fellow Pagcorians to also participate para makita nila ang tunay na nagagawa ng Pagcor sa mahihirap. Kung saan napu-punta ang income at sino ang mga natutulungan (In helping especially those who have nothing to eat, inspires me. I encourage fellow Pagcorians to participate so they can see what Pagcor does to the needy and the poor, so they know where the income goes and who are the ones receiving their aid),” he added.
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