MANILA, Philippines - Fast food giant Jollibee is giving back to the community via school feeding programs for undernourished students and farmer entrepreneurship programs.
"As the company grows, we came to the realization we need to maximize our resources and strengths of the company and give back to the community in a more organized manner. One day, in a casual conversation with my husband, Tony Tan Caktiong, the chairman of the comapny, we thought of the idea together to organize a corporate foundation... The next thing he said, why don't you get it started? So we brought it to the board and I was tasked to get it started," Jollibee Group Foundation president Grace Tan Caktiong told ANC.
The Jollibee Group Foundation represents Jollibee, Greenwich, Chowking, Red Ribbon, Mang Inasal and Burger King Philippines.
Gisela Tiongson, executive director of Jollibee Group Foundation, said the foundation addresses food-related issues in the community. For instance, the school feeding program provides meals for undernourished students, as a way to encourage them to stay in school.
"We are now in 1,000 schools throughout the country, feeding 100,000 students... We also teach the nanays to prepare meals for just P12 per child. We hope they can apply this so that kids are well-fed at home," Tiongson said.
As for the farmer entrepreneurship program, Tan Caktiong said they wanted to help farmers improve their production and income.
"We thought of the idea because we use vegetables in our stores. And the sourcing and supply is not that easy. We noticed that our farmers, especially small-scale farmers, don't have the market for the produce... Their livelihood was not good. We had the intention to increase their income," she said. "We the foundation, come in as a bridge, bridging the market between our company and other food institutions with the farmers."
Tiongson said Jollibee Group Foundation helps train the farmers to produce vegetables that are of the right quality for the market, and access financing for their operations.
Some Jollibee stores were damaged during the super typhoon "Yolanda" that hit the central Visayas last November.
Tiongson said some affected Jollibee store employees were temporarily assigned to other branches in nearby provinces and cities to help them recover. Farmers in those areas were also given a small grant to jumpstart their recovery, while some Yolanda-hit students received scholarships to finish their schooling and start working right away.
Ten years after the foundation was formed, Tan Caktiong said she was very fulfilled and satisfied with the projects they have undertaken.
"This is our passion... The foundation is very blessed to get the support. We are very happy and lucky. We are sure this will continue and be sustained for the years to come," she said.