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Charity Milers feeding children in the Philippines

School meals are helping children in conflict-affected areas of the Philippines.
WFP/Fahima Abdulaziz

Thousands of runners, walkers and bikers have joined the Charity Miles movement over the last two years. Using this free app, they have taken fitness to a new level of helping social causes. Every mile exercised means a donation to charity via the app.

During 2013, as Charity Miles really began to sweep the nation, I reported that it had raised 50,000 school meals to feed hungry children. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) distributed the meals in developing countries. WFP, the largest hunger relief organization, is one of 28 charities that benefit from Charity Miles.

Last fall, when Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines, WFP rushed to bring aid to the storm-devastated country. So it made sense that Charity Miles would play a role in support of WFP and the relief effort.

Lifeway Foods, one of the Charity Miles sponsors, offered to donate to WFP for each mile exercised by Charity Milers. The result was a US $20,000 donation to WFP. This was directed toward the WFP school meals program in the Philippines. The donation amounted to 80,000 meals.

The school meals are provided in areas which have suffered years of conflict between the government and an insurgent group. Coupled with disasters like the typhoons, an enormous strain has been placed on the population.

Peace and reconstruction in the Philippines are bolstered by initiatives like WFP school meals. Charity Miles president Gene Gurkoff exclaimed, “All of Team Charity Miles was so grateful to Lifeway for giving us the opportunity to help WFP. And I am personally moved with how readily our members answered the call.”

WFP spokesperson Steve Taravella added that “it really is a great program – and they’re so appreciative.” Here is a brief Q&A with the WFP Philippines Country Office in Manila on the school feeding that Charity Miles is helping.

How many children receive the school meals in the Philippines?

Overall, WFP’s school feeding programme feeds about 100,000 elementary students every school year in over 350 public schools in conflict-affected areas of Central Mindanao, specifically in the provinces of Maguindanao, North Cotabato, Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte.

What does the meal consist of? Is it once a day or twice a day?

The onsite school feeding is done once a day at noon/lunch time. [The m]eal consists of rice, mung beans and vegetable oil. The parent-teacher community helps in the cooking/food preparation and in some cases complements the meal with other vegetables and sometimes fish.

Has it accomplished objectives of reduced malnutrition and improved class attendance?

Attendance has been sustained, and the retention rate is 99% in WFP-assisted schools. Monitoring of the nutritional status is not part of the school feeding programme; the school administrators do the monitoring and they have observed improvements in the children’s nutritional status.

The World Food Programme says more donations will be arriving from Charity Miles this fall. This will add to the already 130,000 school meals raised. By simply exercising you can feed the hungry and help other causes anywhere around the globe. For more information visit

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