The youth ministry of Mary Help of Christians Parish distributes rice porridge in Lingayen-Dagupan Archdiocese. (Photo supplied)
A Philippine archdiocese has expanded a long-running mass feeding program for the poor to prevent people suffering from economic hardship brought by the coronavirus pandemic from also going hungry.
Lingayen-Dagupan Archdiocese in Pangasinan province, north of Manila, say it is looking to increase the number of people on top of the more than 750 people it feeds each day as part of its “Rice Porridge for the Poor” program, which it launched three years ago.
Rice porridge, or lugaw in Filipino, is also known as the “poor man’s food” for being very economical — one cup of rice makes six cups of porridge.
During World War II, it became the staple food for most Filipino families, especially when food was scarce.
Archbishop Socrates Villegas said the feeding program has gained in popularity and support among many churchgoers since it was launched in 2017.
“It started in Dagupan City three years ago feeding 750 people daily and has been expanded to 15 parishes now,” he told UCA News.
Archbishop Villegas said the program was originally only expected to last until donated rice ran out but churchgoers have continued giving sacks of rice to parishes.
He said the response has been fantastic “and we have not run out of rice to cook.”
How many more people the archdiocese can feed will depend on how much rice is donated.
The youth ministry of Mary Help of Christians Parish and the archdiocese’s minor seminary have been helping distribute rice meals to the needy as part of the project’s expansion.
The group said in a social media post that it been distributing food for more than two weeks and would continue doing so while they received donations from “generous” hearts.
Churchgoers have praised Archbishop Villegas and the youth ministry for their efforts.
“We thank the archbishop for expanding this project. The pandemic may be a difficult time but it is also an opportunity to be generous to our poor brothers and sisters,” said parishioner and churchgoer Lourdes San Jose on social media.
“May God bless you all for the good [things] you are doing for the poor. There is indeed a joy in feeding! May God reward you for your generosity,” said churchgoer Grace De Guzman in another post.