MassCom Student’s Food Rescue Project Wins US Grant

MassCom Student’s Food Rescue Project Wins US Grant

A project  that will collect perishable food from businesses and give it to the hungry and the homeless has won a grant from the United States Government through its Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Seeds for the Future program.

The project, Food Rescue ASEAN, will be implemented in Dumaguete by Mac Florendo, 20, a senior at the College of Mass Communication in Silliman University. A similar initiative will be launched in Kuala Lumpur by his Malaysian cohorts. The winners were announced last August 26.

Mac was chosen a YSEALI fellow last summer and travelled with some 20 other ASEAN youth fellows for five weeks around the United States. In a trip to Colorado, he met Hana Dansky, co-founder of Boulder Food Rescue, who turned out to be an inspiration.

He said about half of Filipinos consider themselves to be poor, and about 40% of Filipinos consider themselves “food poor”. But just as there is someone who has not eaten everyday, he stressed there is food that is still edible that is being thrown away by business owners.

Mac has asked his cyclists friends in Dumaguete to help him in this project. He sees his role as critical, especially in delivering the food items to the beneficiaries. The delivery of food through bicycles is preferred as this has less environmental impact.

“In Dumaguete, the community of cyclists is growing. If we can give an advocacy to these cyclists of delivering food to the poorest of the poor, we might contribute small solutions to the problem,” he said. 

Mac said many people can benefit from this project:  1. the food recipients (“We make sure we deliver to them the right kind of food.”);  2. the food donors (“It builds a good social reputation for them as they participate in a charity project.”); and 3. the volunteers (“Well, volunteerism is always good.”) 

YSEALI Seeds for the Future is a small grants competition for youth leaders in Southeast Asia. It is a part of the U.S. State Department’s larger Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative launched by President Barack Obama in 2013 to strengthen youth leadership, development and networking in Southeast Asia. 

Seeds for the Future provides funding of up to US$20,000 for the region’s most promising youth leaders to carry out projects that improve their communities, countries and the region.

For 2015, 18 projects from ten member nations of ASEAN received the grant to tackle the region’s most pressing problems in education, environmental protection, civic engagement and economic development. 

The project initiatives by the young (18–35 yrs old) YSEALI fellows include seven projects in the Philippines in partnership with other ASEAN fellows. These varied and wide-ranging projects include training for ecosystem conservation, planning and local governance, media literacy for the youth, wildlife conservation and climate change mitigation.

It also includes online seminars for poor high school students who will be taught by Yale University volunteers, leadership training camp for girls, and training for young entrepreneurs in southern Philippines. – By Ms Celia E. Acedo, SU Research and Environmental News Service