Mae De la Rosa, PTA president said their flagship project, “Healthy Body, Healthy Mind,” will provide “a full lunch meal” to 55 students identified collectively by faculty, school administration and the PTA, for 90 days from November 2007 to March 2008.
De la Rosa said that even if DCNHS is a public school located in an urban setting and a number of its students belong to middle class families, “realities such as students going to school on an empty stomach, without any food to eat for lunch, or students who walk on foot for miles to and from the school are present.”
"In the course of preparing for this program, I interviewed scores of students and found out many of them are struggling to keep up with their studies because of poverty, daghan mga panghitabo dinhi nga nakuyapan ang bata tungod sa kagutom (there have been several instances when students fainted due to hunger), ang uban magbaklay padulong ug pauli gikan sa eskuwelahan kay walay pamelete sa eep” (others walk to and from school because they don’t have money for transport fare).
DCNHS has a student population of 7,358. About half of that, Dela Rosa told MindaNews, has nutrition problems. “That’s why we are soliciting support from other sectors so we can serve more students who need assistance,” she said. Dela Rosa said PTAs are usually viewed as a source of supplementary funding for "hard infrastructure projects" or any project under the "school improvement" banner but the DCNHS PTA wants to “encourage a paradigm shift” into going for projects “that will inculcate positive values such as good citizenship, care for the environment, and looking out for the greater good for a greater number.”
Dela Rosa said they also touched base with and are supported in the feeding project by the Office of the City Mayor, Office of Councilor Edgar Ibuyan, and business establishments such as Jopal, Panadero, and Tesoro's Printing Press. Other establishments are expected to join this project as it progresses, she said.
She told MindaNews they explained to the students that they could only afford to feed 55 students for now but hope to have the project expand and continue beyond March 2008.
They are putting up a website, she said, to get more people, particularly the alumni, to support the project.
Within the school, the PTA’s press statement said, the Home Economics Department “will provide the expertise in preparing a balanced meal for the students,” the school nurse “will document the benefits of the project on the students' health,” while the vocational department of the school through the cooperation of its students “will take part by planting vegetables that will be donated to this project.”
"It is hoped that this project, which involves various sectors in society would spin off into more substantial and comprehensive projects aimed at improving the welfare of the students not only in Davao City National High School but also in all secondary schools in the city. This could be our noble contribution to the growing movement of ending hunger throughout the world," de la Rosa said. (MindaNews)