Delivering 10 Million Meals to 1.7 Million People in 100 Days

Published June 25, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

 

Hunger is a devastating by-product of the Covid-19 pandemic in the Philippines. With strict quarantine regulations in place since March 15, approximately 30 million Filipinos who live in poverty are struggling with hunger. 

Pastor Berthyl and his volunteers distributing food packs in Cebu
Pastor Berthyl and his volunteers distributing food packs in Cebu

International Care Ministries (ICM), a Filipino NGO, has delivered a staggering 10 million food packs to at-risk families in the Visayas and in Mindanao, reaching more than one percent of the Filipino population in the first 100 days of the quarantine. 

This pandemic has hit the poorest especially hard. For most, their hand-to-mouth income depends on daily labor, which had to stop during quarantine. In many places hit like Cebu, many people in Pastor Berthyl’s community have lost their jobs. He shared, “Some people here are so desperate that they considered taking up illegal work.”

ICM has been working with the ultra-poor since 1992. Soon after the quarantine was enforced, the staff and partner pastors began receiving reports from all over the Visayas and Mindanao with pleas for help. Suspending its regular poverty-reduction operations, ICM pivoted to effective and efficient aid distribution. 

Bringing food to the hungry

For aid distribution throughout the quarantine, ICM has  been working closely with national, provincial and local governments. ICM’s CEO, David Sutherland, said “We’ve been impressed. Many agencies of the Philippine government have been acting heroically to help the poor. But in a country of more than 100 million people on 7,000+ islands, gaps are inevitable. That is where ICM comes in.”

ICM staff loading vans for food distribution
ICM staff loading vans for food distribution

The organization partners with 10,000+ pastors across the Visayas and much of Mindanao. They help identify families in the greatest need. Through these key partnerships over the last three months, ICM has distributed meals and health supplies to 1.7 million Filipinos.

“There is no other charity in the Philippines who has come close to ICM’s reach among Filipino poor communities during the quarantine,” said Sutherland. “We estimate that eight million poor people live in areas where ICM operates, so that means ICM has already distributed food to one out of five poor Filipino families across vast areas of the country. 

Practicing social distancing even during food distribution in Koronadal.
Practicing social distancing even during food distribution in Koronadal.

More than 5,000 pastors send their requests through ICM’s Rapid Emergency and Disaster Intervention (REDI) system. ICM receives requests through text and social messaging, verifies those requests, and distributes relief packs to ultra-poor communities in remote areas of the Visayas and Mindanao. 

ICM partner pastors are a vital network for ICM’s reach. Pastor Anisa in Koronadal had the ambitious goal of bringing food to 250 families. She and volunteers borrowed a vehicle from their local officials to bring the boxes of food to their church. Some of the people she wanted to help lived far up on a mountain so they hired a motorcycle to reach them. Not even an accident on the way could stop them from reaching the people in need. “The pain was replaced by joy when we saw the smiling faces of the people who received our help. They were so happy and excited to have ICM reach their community,” she said. 

Pastor Anisa distributing food packs in Koronadal
Pastor Anisa distributing food packs in Koronadal

A scalable, efficient response

ICM’s rapid and targeted response is only possible because of decades of innovation around efficient, effective, and scalable charity operations. Over the last decade, ICM’s Transform training program has graduated 1.4 million ultra-poor Filipinos with livelihood skills, health training, values formation, and savings groups. Before the virus took hold, ICM reported that its  four-month Transform program improved ultra-poor household income by 146 percent, reduced serious illness by 29 percent, and decreased chronic hunger by 19 percent.  

ICM Health staff distributing hygiene goods in Negros Occidental
ICM Health staff distributing hygiene goods in Negros Occidental

ICM’s regular programs may have been put on hold by the pandemic, but it is by no means slowing down its efforts to help the ultra-poor. Right now, ICM staff and partner pastors continue to distribute food packs to families. ICM also intends to distribute 20 million seeds to the poorest families, allowing them to grow their own food, along with hundreds of thousands of booklets about Covid-19 in five languages to better equip the poor with knowledge on avoiding infection moving forward. 

“I’m so proud of the staff, even though they are afraid themselves of being exposed to the virus,” said Samuel Templado, ICM Area Head of Negros Occidental. “But we had a great opportunity to reach people who no one else could reach,  and save them from starvation— so we took it.”

International Care Ministries (ICM) is a faith-based NGO with a mission to free the Filipino ultra-poor from the bondages of poverty. Operating since 1992, ICM has graduated over 1.4 million Filipino family members from its four-month anti-poverty training program called Transform. ICM is manned by 500 full-time staff (98% Filipino), primarily located in twelve bases in the Visayas and Mindanao. Field bases are supported by the national program office in Manila. For more information, visit www.caremin.com.

 

 

 
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