"Providing good nutrition to young children, especially those belonging to financially challenged families, has been a concern for RC Makati since RY 1972-1973 when, as club president, Rafael “Paing” Hechanova set up feeding centers in the “barrios” (now called “barangays”) of Makati. Severely malnourished children were provided free meals on a daily basis and weighed periodically to measure their progress. The program was carried on through RY 1978-1979, during the term of Pres. William “Bill” Beck, when the project was christened “Mothercraft Project,” because it was expanded to include the education of mothers on nutrition, hygiene and sanitation, health, family planning, and related issues.
The project was adopted by subsequent presidents and continued through the mid-eighties until, in 1986, Pres. Carlos “Charlie” Rufino transferred the responsibility for the feeding centers from the Club to the Makati City government and to various parishes.
The project was revived in 2004 under Pres. Renato “Rene” Benitez with a feeding program for 30 children in the Club’s adopted Gawad Kalinga community in Kaingin in Paranaque. The Club’s response to RI President Jonathan Majiyagbe’s challenge to Rotary Clubs to do their share in the global effort at poverty reduction, the feeding program was among those visited by the RI president during his stop in Manila in January 2004.
In 2006-2007, Pres. Conrado “Conrad” Marty took the project a step farther to include mental feeding, partnering with Bagong Kulturang Pinoy for story-telling sessions that introduced the children to books, opening their minds to the magic they create.
PP Freddie Borromeo took over the project in RY 2007-2008 and has since served as its chairman, expanding and enriching it beyond its original mission. The choice of young children in the pre-school age group as the program’s primary beneficiaries is founded on the conviction that nutrition during a child’s formative years is critical to the development and growth of both body and mind.
At one point it was noted that despite all the effort and expense put into the TB eradication program, the expected results were elusive. It soon became clear that “TB is, indeed, the sister of malnutrition” and that medication alone, without proper nutrition, cannot arrest the disease. With this valuable learning, the Club has made supplemental feeding a companion project to TB treatment.
PP Freddie’s objective goes beyond feeding malnourished children, though. He wants to help the families and communities to which the children belong, to improve not only their nutritional status but also their lives. That is why the nutrition program encompasses a mothers’ class where the children’s mothers undergo training in meal planning, budgeting, food preparation, and health topics such as sanitation and hygiene, responsible parenthood, and disease prevention.
PP Freddie has seen it fit to give selected students second-hand bicycles from the Bicycles for Life Project to save them transportation money to and from school; books from the Books Across the Seas Project; and Christmas presents through the Rotary Anns’ Last Angel gift-giving program. The committee also conducted relief operations in project sites affected by Typhoon Ondoy and built a water storage and distribution system for a new community in Tanay, Rizal, where families displaced by Ondoy were resettled.
To date, the project has fed thousands of children in schools and barangays in Manila, Tanay, Pasig, Baguio City, Binondo in Manila, Bay in Laguna, Calatagan in Batangas, and Tagudin in Ilocos Sur. It provides each child with one hot meal and a glass of milk every day for 156 days. The meal supplies about 30 percent of the recommended energy and nutrient intake for young children. For easier management, each module is limited to 30 children. The mothers plan the menus in advance and take turns in buying ingredients and preparing the food, making sure that the meal is nutritious. Credit for the project’s success rate of 97% is shared by project partners—the Dept. of Social Welfare and Development, Kabisig ng Kalahi, Rotary Clubs, private foundations, and corporate sponsor Mead Johnson."