Jollibee empowers families

Jollibee empowers families

(Second of two parts)

Last week, we discussed how Jollibee Group Foundation (JGF) systematized its value chain through its Farmer Entrepreneurship Program (FEP), which trains small-scale farmers in agriculture and business skills, thereby increasing quality control, and links them to bigger markets, thereby uplifting their lives.

My favorite JGF initiative was the Weather Insight project, which equips farmers with the resources to more accurately monitor the weather. IBM provided a seven-day forecast at the community level, while Central Luzon State University interpreted the data and translated them into realistic suggestions for farmers.


READ: Jollibee empowers farmers


Onion farmer Eddie Soriano, chair of their cooperative in San Jose, Nueva Ecija, said that they could not prepare well due to the vagaries of the weather. “We’re surprised when it suddenly rains in the morning, afternoon, or evening.”

Onion farmers plant in November or December and harvest in March, and need to guard against over- or under-watering their crops. Through Weather Insights, Soriano could now access 24-hour forecasts over Facebook and share the information with fellow farmers, who could postpone watering crops today, for example, if they knew it would likely rain the day after.

The supplies of onion farmers in Alcala, Pangasinan, were also adversely hit by the pandemic, but with the expertise brought about by training, they learned to innovate. When they ran short of commercial fertilizer, they used vermicast, the material digested by earthworms that fertilized the soil. The farmers also used organic fertilizer from animal waste to produce healthy crops.

JGF does not confine education to farmers. At the turn of the millennium, JGF Chair and President Grace Tan Caktiong asked for my thoughts on helping education, and I replied that partnering with the education department and the schools themselves would make a difference in aiding hungry children. They went beyond this—they harnessed the power of parents, who will sacrifice much to ensure that their children are fed well.

The Busog, Lusog, Talino (BLT) feeding program started in 2007 to give a systemic and scalable response to hunger and malnutrition among public schoolchildren.

READ: Lady behind Jollibee feeds kids (not with burgers)


Together with the Department of Education and local governments, JGF set up BLT kitchens in numerous areas, trained hundreds of parent volunteers on food preparation, and following with a standard nutritious menu, fed hundreds of thousands of hungry kids. Student weights were tracked regularly before the pandemic hit—to great success.

When schools closed due to COVID, some BLT kitchens switched to a different function—to prepare food for pandemic and disaster relief. For example, from dawn to dusk, volunteer parents and teachers served hundreds of breakfast, lunch, and dinner packs at the Agripino Alvarez Elementary School in Sipalay City, Negros Occidental.

“It is hard to be a front-liner if you are hungry,” said parent volunteer Ellen dela Cruz. “We have a kitchen, so why don’t we use it to help?”

Synergy is achieved when various groups come together. During the pandemic, JGF worked with Dana Foundation’s Food Ration Project in feeding hospital workers and checkpoint personnel.

Vegetables and other crops were bought from FEP farmers, some of whom lost their income when restaurants shut down. Meals were cooked by parents and other volunteers at Cambanogoy Elementary School’s BLT kitchen, after which they were delivered to front liners by local government staff.

Dana Foundation is headed by Nelben Moreno, who herself had benefited from JGF’s entrepreneurship training years ago and now serves as a resource person for JGF’s courses.

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“Everyone can contribute to creating solutions to address social concerns,” says JGF. “Engagement of key stakeholders is crucial to our work. We invest in building partnerships with communities and institutions, leading to programs that are relevant, effective, and sustainable.”

TAGS: All in the Family, jollibee

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