Cooking Up Hope with Kusina ng Kalinga
Updated: Jul 1
When you are poor, you are hungry. This is the painful truth that families living in poverty face every single day. It hits them at the most basic level – survival.
Being quarantined during this pandemic pandemic aggravates the situation. Children are kept from school. Parents are kept from work and without any source of income, putting food on the table became even more difficult.
Kusina ng Kalinga (KnK) is Gawad Kalinga's school-based universal feeding program, the provides nutritious meals through central kitchens in specific locations. Each day the kitchens operate and provide thousands of meals.
Prior to this pandemic, 105 Kusina ng Kalinga kitchens operated all over the Philippines. from San Gabriel & San Fernando, La Union in the north, all the way to Cagayan De Oro, Marawi and Davao De Oro in the south. Last year alone, KnK served 38,610 kids in 859 schools for at least 120 days.
Sadly, nothing escapes the effects of COVID-19. With the children quarantined at home, unable to attend school, kitchen operations were suspended. Meals could not be served.
It was then when GK decided, that if the kids could not go to school and get their meals, the meals should go to them. And so last May, GK introduced the KnK Mobile Community Kitchens.
Under Team Leader Mark Lawrence Cruz, Kusina ng Kalinga in Communities was pilot tested in 2 locations, Butuan and Iloilo. He says: “ We fed 2,787 kids for at least 30 days, providing them with 1 nutritious meal daily. There was constant coordination with local government units and quarantine protocols were complied with. The food was localized with the help of parent-volunteers, whose collective efforts help empower the community at a time when many felt helpless. “
There is a plan to establish similar kitchens in 10-20 locations nationwide in the next few months.
How does it work?
· Mini kitchens at the community level are set up. Volunteers prepare nutritious meals daily for at least 120 days for children ages 1 – 12 years old.
· Meals in lunch boxes are served by parent-volunteers in “hapag areas” or designated eating spaces or delivered directly to children at home.
Thanks to Kusina ng Kalinga Mobile Kitchens in Communities, GK is able to continue to address childhood hunger in the poorest and most vulnerable communities through periods of quarantine. And it works, thanks to all those who firmly believe that no child should go hungry, pandemic or not.