'Kusina ng Kalinga' feeding project in Davao beats malnutrition in 120-day program

In an act of pure determination to eliminate malnutrition within their province, a Davao-based feeding project led by a team from the local government successfully rehabilitated undernourished children, posting a 93.4 percent success rate.


The End Hunger Program Team of the Provincial Government of Davao de Oro – composed of Virgilia S. Allones as team leader, Mark Vincent B. Tenio, Arceli A. Timogtimog, and Arturo T. Uy – created the Kusina ng Kalinga (KNK) Program, a 120-day school-based feeding program patterned after the Ateneo Blueplate Central Kitchen Approach.

The group of civil servants decided to take the school-based feeding program up a notch, relieving already overburdened public schools of the task to prepare and distribute meals or food packs, thus increasing the chance of success that children get access to nutritionally-balanced, good quality food.

A Social Weather Stations (SWS) September 2021 survey has shown that an estimated 2.5 million Filipino families experienced hunger – due to lack of food to eat – at least once in the past three months.

Many of those who experience hunger are children, who tend to do poorly at school. The government has undertaken numerous programs to address hunger, one of which is the school-based feeding program mandated by Republic Act 11037, also known as an Act Institutionalizing a National Feeding Program for Undernourished Children in Public Day Care of 2018, and primarily implemented by the Department of Education.

Central kitchens are where lunches are prepared before they are delivered to children in different elementary schools. This system cuts expenses, as high as 38 percent compared to other programs, due to bulk-buying of ingredients.

With 14 central kitchens and 15 special kitchens scattered across the province, KNK was able to fully rehabilitate an average of 90% of its total beneficiaries from 2017 to 2019, which is the highest rehabilitation rate for any school-based feeding program in the country. This eventually led to decreased malnutrition rates among children in the province.

In its pilot run in Maco South District, the schools district that recorded the highest incidence of child malnutrition, 748 out of 825 “wasted” or undernourished children were fully rehabilitated after 120 days of feeding.

Budget cuts almost hampered the full rollout of the program, but through the team’s persistence and dedication, they were able to secure additional funding from both the public and private sectors, which were used to develop the kitchens, purchase equipment, and provide KNK employees with proper and comfortable work spaces.

Team leader Allones said that the feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment is what they love most about their job.

“It is a life-long dream of mine to see the young generation of Davao de Oro acquire the much-needed education and skills to better prepare them for the future,” she said.

CSC Pagasa Award

This selfless act of theirs gained recognition as they were picked among hundreds of nominees of the 2020 Search for Outstanding Government Workers to receive the Civil Service Commission (CSC) Pagasa Award.

They were recognized in a virtual program on Nov. 15 2021 held by the CSC, the agency administering the government’s Honor Awards Program (HAP).

The virtual awards rites, which aired on the CSC’s Facebook Page and YouTube channel, featured a total of 41 awardees from 2020 and 2021—12 who were conferred the Presidential Lingkod Bayan award; 11 who received the CSC Pagasa award; and 18, the Dangal ng Bayan award.

Allones’ team was awarded the CSC Pagasa, which is conferred on an individual or group for outstanding contribution/s resulting from an idea or performance that directly benefit more than one department of the government. Recipients of this award receive a plaque signed by the CSC Chairperson, gold-gilded medallion handcrafted by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, and cash reward of PHP200,000 per individual awardee or PHP100,000 for each member of the group awardee.

The CSC is once again looking for exemplars in public service who can be nominated to the 2022 Search for Outstanding Government Workers.

All government workers in the career and non-career service including appointive barangay officials may be nominated. Employees who are under job order or contract of service are excluded from the coverage of the program.

Deadline of submission of nominations is on March 31, 2022. Nominations must be submitted to the CSC Regional or Field Offices. Guidelines and other pertinent information are available from the CSC website at www.csc.gov.ph.