Cardinal Jose Advincula of Manila appealed to the Filipino faithful to fast on Ash Wednesday and during the Lenten season to feed poor and malnourished children.
In a pastoral statement, the prelate noted that third year into the COVID-19 pandemic, poor families have yet to recover from unemployment and the hunger and malnutrition that came with it.
“Still, we continue to fulfill our mission of providing for the poor especially for the malnourished children so they may have a chance for better health and growth,” said the cardinal.
He urged the faithful to participate in the Church’s “Fast2Feed” fundraising campaign that invites everyone to fast from a meal and donate whatever savings to the Hapag-Asa (literally, table of hope) Integrated Nutrition Program.
The project, which is being run by the Church-based Pondo ng Pinoy Community Foundation Inc., has already provided food to over two million children across the country since 2005.
“It only takes about Php10 a day or Php1,200 (about US$25) to continuously feed a child for six months,” read the cardinal’s statement.
Data from Unicef revealed that 95 children in the Philippines die from malnutrition every day while 27 out of 1,000 Filipino children do not get past their fifth birthday.
A third of Filipino children are stunted, or short for their age, said the UN agency, adding that stunting after two years of age can be permanent, irreversible, and even fatal.
“Today, as we observe Ash Wednesday to mark the beginning of Lent, let us renew our commitment to a life of prayer, fasting, and charity, following the teaching of today’s gospel,” said Cardinal Advincula.
“Indeed, your small act of kindness—fasting from a meal today and giving to poor and hungry children will make a big difference to many Filipino families,” read the pastoral statement.
The project feeds children six months to 12 years old once a day, five times a week for six months.