"Love to Learn"

The following is a guest post from Mike Tomelden, who directs a school feeding program in the Philippines, Good Men Feeding Program. It is always easier to appreciate a post by seeing photographs of the children in need. So we start here with the children and end with a brief description of Tomelden's project (More information is provided on the Facebook page, The Reading, Literacy and Feeding Program):

Love To Learn 
by Mike Tomelden
Grade 1
Previous weight: 34.2 lbs.
Current weight: 38.2 lbs.

Grade 2
Previous weight: 30.36 lbs.
Current weight: 32.2 lbs.

Grade 2
Previous weight: 38.5 lbs.
Current weight: 42.5 lbs.

Grade 2
Previous weight:  42.2 lbs.
Current weight: 55 lbs.

Grade 2
Previous weight: 39.38 lbs.
Current weight: 52.0 lbs.

Grade 3
Previous weight: 43.6 lbs.
Current weight: 50 lbs.

Graduates of the Let’s Read program and beneficiaries of the Good Men Project Feeding program.

Love to Learn is an active apostolate by Margaux Romero Atayde, Mike Tomelden and Nikko Buendia, under the auspices of the Paulino Garcia Charities Foundation and the Corazon Sanchez Atayde Memorial Foundation (CSAMF), Inc. represented by Margarita Romero-Atayde, Program Director; and Mike Tomelden of the Good Men Feeding Program, Program Director

The Dr. Paulino Garcia Charities and CSAMF have formed a partnership with Mike Tomelden with the vision of empowering Filipino children to finish their education; and to receive the necessary nourishment and tutorial aids to sustain learning. We all stand together in their goal of keeping children in school and nourished, thus increasing their chances of a better future.

The Program

L.E.T.S. Read is a program aimed to encourage love for reading in children, especially those at risk of dropping out of school. The program is complemented with feeding, parent and teacher enrichment.

The Good Men Feeding Project aims to feed malnourished/severely wasted school children aged zero to twelve years old, pregnant and lactating mothers. The primary source of nutrition is provided by HapagAsa through the use of Manna Rice provided by the Pondo ng Pinoy.

Part and parcel to the Love to Learn Program is a tutorial program – under the Good Men Feeding Program, in math and english to re enforce learning, and to increase the child's chances of success, as to bring together all stakeholders in the child’s life working towards the same goal.

Roles and Responsibilities

The parties’ roles and responsibilities are as follows:

1. CSAMF shall undertake the following activities to ensure proper implementation of the Program:

a. Train volunteers to implement the Program;

b. Provide parent training and education;

c. Monitor and document the Program; and

d. Submit reports to partners as requested or within a reasonable time after the completion of a certain phase of the Program.

CSAMF shall coordinate with the Partner Schools so that they shall undertake the following activities in fulfillment of the Program:

a. Provide classrooms/venues for use in activities as necessary;

b. Provide volunteer teachers ad parents;

c. Help monitor the Program and coordinate with CSAMF; and

d. Provide relevant school data, such as Phil-IRI, grades, weight/height and other pertinent information relating to the health and performance of the beneficiaries.

The Good Men Feeding Program is a feeding program that provides children hot meals from Monday to Saturday. Meals are served in the morning before kids go to school. Those that go to the morning session are also given food through their parents.

The Good Men Project

A. Objective

• To reduce malnutrition prevalence rate among 0 to 12 years old

• To improve capacity of parents to care and provide for basic needs of their children

• Improved Physical, mental, emotional and social development

• Weight gain of 1 to 2 kg per month

• More active and cheerful children

• Increased appetite

• Less sickly

• Good disposition

• Improved skin color (pale to rosy cheeks)

• Improved school attendance and performance

B. Program Components

• Supplemental Feeding

• Parents’ Education Classes

§ Affective Parenting

§ Health and Nutrition

§ Responsible Parenthood-Natural Family Planning and Values

§ Livelihood and Skills Training

• A tutorial program shall instruct children ages 6 to 12 in math and English, taught by professional public school children, with the prescribed public school K to 12 curricullum.

D. Mechanics

Target Recipients

- 6 months to 12 years old undernourished children (priority given to younger age group – 6 years old & below)

- underweight pregnant and lactating women

Feeding Administration

- 1 meal a day, 5 days a week for 6 months or a total of 120 days

- Food can be complete meal or heavy snacks

- Gather children together in one site for snacks or regular meals

- Use of food supplements:

- Manna Pack Fortified Rice

• Rice with Soya and Dehydrated Vegetables manufactured in the US

• Donated by Feed my Starving Children through Risen Saviour Missions

• Each pack weighes approx. 400g and can feed 6 children or 4 pregnant/lactating mothers

- Manpower includes volunteers and most importantly PARENTS OF THE ENROLLED CHILDREN

a. Monday to Wed: 40 to 50 children

b. Thurs to Friday: 120 children. In reality, the number ranges from 160 to 180 children daily.

c. We initially asked the school to ask parents to come to seminars. A few came

d. When asked the parents to help with cooking, serving and cleaning, some came but did not return thereafter.

e. Cooking, was initially done by the school guard Russell, who had to wake up rather early in the morning (around 3 am) to cook the children’s meals.

f. Initially, only the 40 to 50 children were fed daily, if at all. My main responsibility was to provide supplemental ingredients, which we brought to the school.

g. We took over the cooking soon thereafter. It was at this time that the number of recipients steadily increased.

h. When the program began, recipients did not respond well to the Vita Meal nor the Manna Rice – color and taste were unusual.

i. I immediately looked at the problem and designed a menu around what the kids suggested. We learned how to properly prepare the Manna Rice and Vita Meal. The menu evolved into the following:

a. Fried Rice with Manna Rice (fried egg, hot dog, ground meat mixture) – very high acceptance.

b. Spaghetti with ground meat and vita meal mix and tomato sauce – very high acceptance

c. Sopas and Manna Rice – medium to high acceptance

d. Processed cheese sandwiches on white bread, served with chocolate milk. We always make sure there is one component with high nutritional value. This is highly acceptable to kids.

e. Lumpiang shanghai made with fish and vita meal paste, served with Manna rice. As long as there is ketchup, acceptance is high.

f. From this menu, we established a daily allowance of P 10/child.

- Other Program Components

- Parents’ Education Classes

- Conducted at least once a week for 6 months

- Skills Training and Livelihood Activities

- In partnership with other organizations/institutions.

- Parents who already graduated from the 6-month program are eligible for capital loan from DSWD

- Resource mobilization and networking


This is the ideal structure:

A. Community or School Coordinator

B. Parents/Caregivers and other Volunteers

a. Food Preparation Group, Marketer(s) and Cook(s), Servers and Cleaners

b. Nutritional Assessment Group/Growth Monitoring Person/Attendance checker

c. Education & Support Services Group/Education Classes Coordinator

Expected Effects on Children

a. Physical, mental, emotional and social development

b. Weight gain of 1 to 2 kg per month

c. More active and cheerful children

d. Increased appetite

e. Less sickly

f. Good disposition

g. Improved skin color (pale to rosy cheeks)

h. Improved school attendance and performance

i. Comments/Observations:

• A good percentage of the children gained weight, but not at the rate we expected ( 1 to 2 kg per month)

• Certainly, once we developed a menu based on feedback from kids, appetites increased drastically.

• According to Let’s Read personnel, children at Dr. Sixto Antonio – as opposed to the other five pilot schools in Pasig - seemed to:

• perform better academically

• are more active and cheerful

• My main concern are the meals they are supposed to receive before and after school. As it is, teachers tell me that most do not eat breakfast – for one reason or another (kids tend to take seconds, thirds and fourth, and more, servings regularly). This may be the primary reason that weight objectives become difficult to achieve. If the only nutritious meal they get is from the feeding program, then there is a high probability of zero net weight gain.

My other concern is continuity. Our Feeding program is scheduled for six months. During our absence in the summer vacation months, our beneficiaries will probably lose weight once again, and will not have the benefit of nutritious food until school begins once again in three months time.