Building A Positive Relationship With Real Food In Taguig, PhilippinesThu 01 May 2014
Story by The Jamie Oliver Food Foundation (USA)
Introducing our April Ambassador of the Month!
Ambassador of the Month is a feature that we’ve launched in order to highlight the amazing volunteers we have around the world. Ambassadors who have been chosen show an unwavering desire for change in their communities. They are fighting for real food and food education skills and donate their time every month to make this happen.
Our ambassador for April is Madelene (Mads) Dupale from Taguig in the Philippines! Mads is a demo chef, consultant and caterer, a food explorer with a strong passion for cooking, a real food advocate and activist of the Food Revolution! Mads believes that healthy cooking doesn’t have to be boring and complicated – all you need to do learn a few skills and techniques, be creative, choose fresh ingredients and enjoy your time in the kitchen with family and friends. Please met Mads!
Tell us a little about why you wanted to get involved in the Food Revolution?
According to news and national statistics there are more than half a million Filipino children suffering from severe malnutrition and according to WHO World Health Organization non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the top killers in the Philippines. In 2008, 57% of deaths were due to the “fatal four” NCDs, namely cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and chronic respiratory disease. It is estimated that 35 to 50 percent of NCD deaths occurred before age 60 years.
This is so alarming and I believe the campaign for better food education is very important nowadays. During my childhood, I was inspired by Jamie Oliver’s way of cooking from scratch; it was fun watching his shows. He taught me that cooking is fun and the value of serving good food to the people you love. Just like Jamie, I want to inspire everyone, especially children and give them the values on how to appreciate real food and build a positive relationship so that today's youth may live longer and ensure them a better future!
How has the Ambassador Program helped you accomplish your goals?
My hometown is in the province of Bulacan where I learned to appreciate my grandmother and my mom’s way of cooking real food. I have since moved in to Manila in Taguig, where we are constantly bombarded by fast food at every street corner and most of the people here were taking good health for granted with their busy lifestyle.
I love to teach and I never thought in my life that in my chosen field as a chef I can inspire many people to have a better life. The Ambassador Program helped me build confidence to lead and organize events in Taguig City and also across other cities in the Philippines. Through the Food Revolution ambassador program we are also provided with the tools to use and monthly challenges that we can accomplish to keep engaged year round. It has made me a better leader and I am truly grateful for the support of JOFF Community Manager and Team and encouragements of the ambassadors around the world In order to educate others,
What have you been able to achieve since being an Ambassador?
Together with the help of an organization called HRCAP (Hotel and Restaurant Chefs Association of the Philippines) by Chef Roberto Francisco, my Alma Mater CATFABS (Center for Advanced Training in Food and Beverage Services) my co ambassador and Farmer and Chef Friends we have been able to spread awareness by organizing a cooking demo promoting healthy, clean, delectable but also affordable cuisine and promoting the pride of Traditional Filipino cuisine. Through our movement we have also been able to promote the JOFF ambassadors program in our country; some of our friends were interested in joining this wonderful advocacy and the leaders of Food Revolution in our country has since grown.
One of the best experiences was when all of the ambassadors united during the Typhoon Yolanda or Haiyan aftermath. With the help of our sponsors and co ambassadors we were able to provide healthy and fleshly cooked meals for the victims of Tacloban and Samar.
The Food Revolution here in the Philippines is now recognized by organizations and people like Atching Lilian Borromeo a Food Historian and NDAP or Nutritionist-Dieticians’ Association of the Philippines through Mam Nancy Lumen a celebrity chef and “self proclaimed adobo queen”. We hope that our voice will be heard by many especially the legislators of our country to support our advocacy and create a bill that will implement a better food education to children in schools.
What real food initiative are you currently working on in your community? How's it going?
I want to be heard that’s why I do campaigns in our community, such as the cooking demos. We educate children’s, parents and teachers of Home Economics on basic planting and teaching them how to cook and provide them healthy recipes to try at home. The result is very positive; most people are hungry for this kind of education they admit that they’re lacking in cooking skills and willing to learn. We also have help from farmers too on demonstrating basic planting.
Implementing better food education and teaching people how to grow their own food will lead to a better food relationship and appreciation of healthy food, saving money and improving families’ health. Especially nowadays, as the school canteens are serving food and drinks high in preservatives like sodas and chips and some children also buy and consume the energy drinks because they are cheap, yet they don’t know the risk and harmful effects of consuming it every day. I am currently working on a collaboration with the Hunger Project and supporting the House Bill 4021 the proposed Healthy Beverage Options Act of 2014 banning softdrinks in schools by Reps. Leni Robredo of Camarines Sur.
School-based and community feeding programs do exist but in my opinion they are not good enough, nor effective fighting diet related diseases. Most children as young as 7 years old work for a living due to poverty and to help their parents out. These children often come to school hungry making it difficult for them to learn and they lack focus in their studies, and many leave early. We are transforming the feeding program in our community and hopefully all over the country. We organize events so that when they go home they not just feel healthy but wealthy with knowledge and skills that they will always remember and use in their daily lives. We conduct our program by introducing the importance of eating and cooking real food, a planting activity, a fruit and vegetable lecture, food preparation and practical buying, cooking tips and hands on cooking that they can use for livelihood to earn extra income, then we allow them to eat what they cook that way they appreciate it and have a better understanding about our advocacy.
I also share my story to inspire others. A story that I also came from a poor family, I grew up in a province but I am not shy of it because my family survived facing poverty, we are all in good health, including my grandparents at the age of 80+! Most of us did not face any complications when it comes to our health, and I believe that it is because we are aware of healthy eating and I remember in my early childhood I was trained to drink herbs, fresh fruit juices and appreciate the healthy vegetable foods that have grown in our backyard. When it comes to cooking we are not great fans of highly processed foods. Healthy food is our medicine; we feed and nourish our body.
It is a challenging role to change the eating habits of your community. I believe that it is important to teach your kids about real food as early as possible so that they will have a better understanding about life and be more concerned about their health. It is also important to involve them in simple food preparations to build their creativity and the most important skills that they can learn – cooking their own food for themselves and their family.
I am not losing hope to solve all the malnutrition and diet-related disease problems in our community and country. Better food education is the solution we just need to educate ourselves no matter what age, status and race and family roots we can all make a difference to our lives it’s never too late we just need a little initiative and discipline.
See our full list of Food Revolution ambassadors here.
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