|Eden Delight Miro||Department of Mathematics, Ateneo de Manila University,Quezon City, 1108 Philippines|
|J. Lemuel Martin||Nanyang Business School, Nanyang Technological University, 639798 Singapore|
|Leslie Lopez||Development Studies Program, Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City, 1108 Philippines|
|Joselito Sescon||Department of Economics, Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City, 1108 Philippines|
|Carmela Oracion||Ateneo Center for Educational Development, Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City, 1108|
|Jhoel Loanzon||Ateneo Center for Educational Development, Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City, 1108|
There has recently been renewed interest and a growing demand for school feeding programs. In the Philippines, the government, through the Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), and non-government organizations such as the Ateneo Center for Educational Development (ACED), has initiated such programs to address the prevalence of malnutrition among Filipino school-age children. In 2011, ACED introduced the ACED Blueplate Centralized Kitchen (ABCK) model for large-scale school feeding. This study aims to provide a supply chain profile of the first and largest city-wide implementation of the ABCK model in the Philippines to date, which is fully funded by a local government unit, DepEd, and DSWD. The research considers the crucial internal and external factors that influence the attainment of the program objectives, affect its performance, and promote its overall sustainability using the school feeding supply chain framework.
Humanitarian supply chain; Malnutrition; School feeding program; Social protection; Sustainability
The relationship between nutrition and education (Pollitt, 1990; Birdsall et al., 2005), along with the need to address severe malnutrition as early as possible, has made school-based feeding programs a natural and popular solution for NGOs and governments in developing countries (World Bank, 2005). The ubiquity of these programs has emphasized the need to document and implement best practices to ensure proper cost containment and maximum efficacy. However, due to unclear (or even competing) performance indicators, the intricacies of public-private interactions, and the presence of operating and social costs, determining the effectiveness of these programs can be difficult. Furthermore, there has been a dearth of literature with respect to effective program monitoring and evaluation (Gelli & Espejo, 2012).
Absenteeism due to hunger is one of the associated factors in the poor performance of children in the Philippines (Tabunda et al., 2016). In response to this, several school feeding programs have been initiated in the Philippines by the Department of Education (DepEd) through its School-based Feeding Program (SBFP), by the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD) through its Supplemental Feeding Program (SFP), and by non-governmental organizations such as the Ateneo Center for Educational Development (ACED) through its the Blueplate for Better Learning feeding program. These programs primarily aim to improve the nutritional status of children classified from wasted to severely wasted, improve their classroom attendance, and alleviate short-term hunger in public schools in the Philippines. The ACED Blueplate is also a template-building initiative which seeks to develop a sustainable, replicable, and cost-effective large-scale school feeding model. To this end, they developed and introduced what we refer to as the ACED Blueplate Centralized Kitchen (ABCK) model, which is a template for large-scale school feeding.
The largest implementation of the ABCK model to date has been the City-wide School Feeding Program (CSFP) in a city in Metro Manila, Philippines (henceforth referred to as the City). Launched in 2012, it was the first city-wide school feeding program in the whole country, and now feeds more than 17,000 schoolchildren daily through a single centralized kitchen. It is also the first implementation of the ABCK model which is fully funded by a city LGU and DepEd through SBFP, and DSWD through SFP.
The supply chain profile of the ABCK model as implemented in the CSFP shows that it is a viable template for efficient and effective large-scale LGU-led school feeding operations. The sustainability of the program, however, is largely dependent on the context and capabilities of the implementing LGU. Due to its scale, the implementing LGU needs to have sufficient functional and managerial capabilities to deal with the main administrative activities, such as procurement, accounting and liquidation. The complexity of the daily operations of the CSFP requires strong support for the program, not just among LGU employees and officials, but also in the community, among the school heads and teachers, and among the central kitchen employees themselves.
The support of the LGU Council is necessary to establish strong policy frameworks and strong institutional structure and coordination for the program; for example, by establishing and cultivating partnerships with other government institutions such as DepEd and DSWD. To make the program implementation as cost effective as possible and to foster program ownership, community participation is important as a source of volunteers and community champions of the program. The consistent delivery of quality meals to thousands of beneficiaries for 120 days is not just a function of sound program processes, but also of the commitment and support of the central kitchen core group. Hence, a complete buy-in to the program by the kitchen core group is important. Fortunately, all these requirements are currently satisfied in the CSFP of the City.
One of the strengths of an LGU-led model (and social intervention programs in general) is the presence of political champions, who can rally support for the program. If the political champion has enough political capital and grassroots support, such as the mayor of the City, this can translate into vital human resources support in the daily operations of the central kitchen. However, the personal character of such political capital can also be a source of weakness for the program. Hence, mainstreaming SFP in local policies and plans is vital. In the City LGU, aside from the local ordinances passed in support of the program, the CSFP is one of the main components of Education 360 Investment. Launched in 2014, Education 360 is based on a holistic approach, which aims to improve the quality of the basic education of the City. Aside from investing in nutrition through CSFP, it is also an investment in other vital aspects of basic education: school supplies, curriculum, parental involvement, teacher competency, and infrastructure.
The primary goal of the SCF is to identify the aspects of the school feeding supply chain that foster sustainability. As this study has shown, it can also be a useful tool to obtain a better understanding of the complex dynamics of a centralized school feeding model. Future studies could include determination of which of the SBFP operating models in Table 1 are effective, efficient and sustainable. The impact and value transfer of feeding programs should also be evaluated.
The authors would like to thank the University Research Council of the Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU) and the Commission on Higher Education DARETO Grant-in-Aid for the funding. The research team would also like to thank the City LGU for allowing us to conduct this study and the Dean of the School of Science and Engineering of AdMU for the crucial logistical and financial support at the start of this research endeavor.
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