Advancement for Rural Kids program combats hunger and malnutrition in the Philippines

NEW YORK —  Advancement for Rural Kids, or A.R.K., has turned ten.

Throughout the years, this New York-based non-profit organization has made it a priority to combat hunger and malnutrition in rural Philippines.

Its CEO and co-founder, Ayesha Vera-yu, said many kids in rural areas are forced to quit school because they are hungry.

So A.R.K. pioneered a recipe for change – ARK’s 5 cent school lunch.

“The ARK lunch is the only one in the world right now, that is self-sustaining, where parents contribute to day 1 and they’re fully paid after 3 years.

The program also decreased student dropouts, while encouraging more kids to stay and finish school.

“So what we are investing in are basically solutions that come from within the community. In this 5 cent lunch, in the first year, ARK catalyzes it by paying 80% of that 5 cents, parents pay 20%, in year 4 parents pay 100% of the ARK lunch — all on their own.

ARK co-founder Jerry Topitzer said, it’s not a handout — it’s an investment that sustains itself after 3 years.

“Over time, the secret was, allowing them to really own it and run it themselves, that was the secret for how they were able to do so much with a small amount of money.”

Principal Marissa said, while the schools implement the program, parents have to also do their part.

“The parent-teacher associations of every grade level takes care of the garden, others volunteer in the preparation and the cooking of lunch.”

In ten years, ARK has served close to a million lunches, helped put 5,000 kids back to school, and provided scholarships to more than 200 kids to advance to high school and college.”A community that sustains itself, is a community that lives on forever – and that is what I think sets ARK apart,” said David McQueen.

This recent dinner benefit party aimed to raise more money so ARK can share their 5 cent ARK lunch solution to end hunger and malnutrition all over the Philippines.

ARK is targeting to help 45 communities in the next 3 three years — and lead them to a self-sustaining future.

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