Former President Arroyo joins war against hunger

PAMPANGA Second District Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is willing to sponsor a bill on food banking as part of solving hunger in the country.

Arroyo was the keynote speaker during the Rise Against Hunger (RAH) Global Strategic Planning Summit at the Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort in Lapu-Lapu City yesterday.

RAH, formerly known as Stop Hunger Now, is a hunger relief organization that was founded in 1998.

Rod Brooks, president and chief executive officer of RAH, said it was their first time that their organization and the local parties came together to develop a global strategic plan.

RAH's target is zero hunger commission in the country.

Since an executive order of the president is still needed for this, Arroyo suggested that RAH will work with the National Nutrition Council through a public-private partnership to end hunger in the Philippines.

As to food banking, Arroyo told the summit participants to give her a draft of the bill so she can review it and serve as its sponsor.

Jomar Fleras, executive director of RAH Philippines, explained that a food bank is where a donation from food manufacturers, hotels and agricultural sector are received.

Fleras said the donations will be forwarded to orphanages and evacuation centers, among others.

Pamela Baricuatro, executive director of Simply Share Foundation (SSF), said they will feed 150 undernourished children in Barangay Baring, Carmen in partnership with RAH tomorrow.

She said they will then go to Malabuyoc.

In her speech, Arroyo said she implemented the Accelerated Hunger Mitigation Program during her presidency. It focused on food production, distribution, and nutrition.

"Here in the Philippines where the determined President (Rodrigo) Duterte at the helm of the government, I am very optimistic that the number of hungry families will go down even more," she said.

The Philippines ranks fifth in the list of countries for the number of people going hungry, according to Gallup International-Voice of the People.

Arroyo also thanked RAH for providing 25,000 food packs to evacuees from Marawi City.

Brooks said RAH is committed to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of ending hunger by 2030.

While their mission is to end hunger in the lifetime, Ray Buchanan, founder of Stop Hunger Now/RAH organization, said it is important to have a date so everyone can work together to make it possible.

"It is important to realize that it is possible... Ending hunger is the right thing to do," he said.

Based on the results of the activities that RAH conducted last year, they have distributed aid to 43 countries.
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