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Our Trip to the Philippines with Zambrero: Highlighting How the Work to End Hunger Starts With a Meal

By Liza Munson on June 20, 2023

As Senior Manager of Strategic Global Corporate Partnerships at Rise Against Hunger, I recently had the opportunity to travel to the Philippines for an impact trip with representatives from Zambrero, one of our organization’s longstanding and largest corporate partners. In my role, I am passionate about bringing corporations and organizations alongside Rise Against Hunger to create meaningful impact together, and I’ve had the pleasure of working with Zambrero for years in the work to serve communities affected by food insecurity. 

Zambrero has been dedicated to our mission of ending global hunger since 2014 and through their Plate 4 Plate program Zambrero donates a meal for every burrito or bowl sold in its restaurants worldwide. This trip to the Philippines served as an opportunity for Zambrero team members to gain a deeper understanding of how the impact made possible by their support “starts with a meal” and to learn more about Rise Against Hunger’s global work, including our international offices. I, with another member of the Rise Against Hunger U.S. team, accompanied Zambrero as we visited several of the programs supported and managed by Rise Against Hunger Philippines. Keep reading to learn more about why this week-long impact trip with Zambrero was so impactful! 

We started the week-long impact trip in Manila, braving the infamous traffic as we traveled to the Kain Tayo Mobile Kitchen to distribute hot meals to community members. The mobile kitchen, run by Rise Against Hunger Philippines, is stationed two days a week in different barangays (districts) and serves approximately 500 community members at each stop. The experience was not what any of us expected! When we arrived, there was loud music playing and a festive atmosphere as women and children lined up to have their take-home containers filled with hot, nutritious food. The Zambrero team jumped right into the action, helping the Rise Against Hunger Philippines staff with serving the meals. At the mobile kitchen site, community members also can receive vaccines, seed packets to take home and other services. 

Zambrero Team members serving hot take-home meals at the Kain Tayo Mobile Kitchen

On day two, we visited Rise Against Hunger’s Good Food Farm and the nearby Bungkol Elementary School. Starting at the school, I experienced one of the most impactful moments of the trip while listening to an emotional and passionate message from a teacher there. The school receives Rise Against Hunger meals to serve to their students, and the teacher shared that she has personally witnessed changes in her students’ physical and emotional well-being since the introduction of the meals. The Zambrero team was also able to visit the school’s small garden, which engages parents and community members in the planting, maintenance and harvesting of fresh vegetables for the school and community. Hearing from the teacher and seeing the garden highlighted the work being done to address both the children’s immediate nutritional needs and work toward long-term food security.

Students at Bungkol Elementary

We then visited the Good Food Farm, an urban community farm established by Rise Against Hunger Philippines, and were able to walk around and see the grounds. The paradisiacal farm is working to alleviate hunger in the Philippines through sustainable agriculture. It grows organic produce for local food pantries and provides experiential education for the community about sustainable agriculture practices and food justice.

Zambrero team members with the mayor of Magdalena, Laguna Peter C. Bucal, and his wife at the Good Food Farm.

On the third day, we visited A Better World Tondo Food Bank. This was a memorable day for all of us. The facility is far more than just a food bank, and we could see the impact the nutritious food and other services provided by the facility were having in the community. The food bank is structured as a shop, with patrons able to come and take the food that they need from the shelves. There is also a state-of-the-art kitchen. We were there during lunch and saw local schoolchildren coming in for meals. The facility also has many other services, including a tutoring center and a health center. While there, we went in small groups to see the homes of some Better World Tondo volunteers to better understand their lives and living conditions. These home visits underscored the importance of the food bank and the impact it is having on people’s lives. 

As the week together with Zambrero began to come to a close, we went to Cebu to see a Rise Against Hunger meal distribution with the Simply Share Foundation. When we arrived, local children were lined up to receive Rise Against Hunger meals and other food products. The Philippines Navy and Marines were in attendance to help manage the distribution. Many of the homes we saw in Cebu were in poor condition, which served as a somber reminder of the challenges that people living in poverty face. 

Zambrero team members serving meals in Cebu

All of the programs we visited illustrated how “It Starts With a Meal” but doesn’t end there in the communities that Rise Against Hunger serves. The work to end hunger goes beyond just providing a meal right now; it also includes supporting long-term food security through sustainable agriculture, supporting education by providing school meals that improve well-being, increasing access to needed services and supplies, and so much more. The Zambrero team left the Philippines with an increased resolve to continue their incredible work to help end global hunger. It was wonderful to spend time with the Zambrero team, and I know that the experiences we shared during our trip to the Philippines are some that all of us will hold in our hearts forever. As one of the Zambrero franchise partners shared, “We totally underestimated how much we would learn on this trip. I always thought our Plate for Plate initiative was about a meal for a meal and it ended there. I had no idea how we are contributing to so much more. I couldn’t be more proud of it all.”  

Interested in learning how your business or organization can partner with Rise Against Hunger — like Zambrero — to help global hunger? Learn more about how we can partner together and submit your interest here.