After temporarily reviving the “nutribun” last March to help poor communities during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), San Miguel is bringing back the vitamin-fortified, energy-packed bread to be given for free daily to the urban poor, through its network of Petron gas stations.
SMC president and chief operating officer (COO) Ramon S. Ang said the company arrived at the decision to continue shouldering the cost of producing more “nutribuns” and free bread for poor communities as they are the most vulnerable and significantly affected by the ongoing pandemic.
“These are difficult times for all of us. Even businesses, big and small, including San Miguel, are not spared of the economic impact of COVID-19. Many families are struggling to cope. What more the most disadvantaged among us–those who rely on daily paid work, or those who have no means of income at all?” Ang said.
“We hope this feeding program will help sustain many of our countrymen who are struggling through these difficult times. As a company that has food as one of its main line of businesses, we believe no Filipino should go hungry despite the hardships we’re facing today. We are committed to doing our part to making sure this goal is achieved, however way we can,” Ang said.
To make nutribuns and regular bread available for free to the urban poor, the company will use as distribution centers around 30 Petron stations all over Metro Manila that are within close proximity to depressed areas.
SMC has started procuring ovens for the bread kiosks that will be set up at identified service stations. The feeding centers are expected to become available to targeted communities soon. The kiosks will also eventually offer rice porridge and other meals to go with the bread.
Targeted areas include Payatas, Caloocan, Malolos, and Tondo, among others. The project will be done in partnership with local governments units (LGUs).
SMC’s version of the nutribun, which it earlier distributed to poor communities in and outside Metro Manila, is packed with nutrients, with high content of dietary fiber as well as iron and and iodine.
Made of quality ingredients, including San Miguel products Kind Hard wheat flour and Star margarine, each nutribun has up to 85 grams of dough, compared to about 30 grams in regular pandesal. Each nutribun packs 250 calories, equivalent to 1 ¼ cup of rice.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic forced government to implement lockdowns nationwide in mid-March to stem the transmission of the virus, SMC has led private sector efforts to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the public, and has sustained its efforts to help the medical community.
It’s total response to the pandemic has reached over P13 billion. Its food donation drive had reached P516 million as of the end of June, the largest ever in the company’s history, and Most likely, the country’s.
Apart from donating rice and its own food products such as canned goods, fresh and processed meats and poultry, biscuits, dairy products, coffee, and bread, San Miguel has also donated flour to various LGUs, for distribution to community bakers, who then made them into affordable or free bread.
On top of donating food, SMC, together with the Department of Agriculture, has also taken significant steps to ensure food security and help farmers in the countryside whose produce would have otherwise gone to waste due to issues with reaching markets and the disruption of transportation and food businesses.
SMC’s first community center, Better World Tondo, is a learning, feeding center and food bank that has been serving the poorest communities in Tondo. Recently, it has become the nerve center of the company’s efforts to provide free meals everyday to locally-stranded individuals.
It’s Better World Edsa, is a COVID-19 testing lab dedicated to helping the country meet its expanded testing goals and ensuring a safer restart of the economy, by regularly testing some 70,000 employees and extended workers in SMC’s nationwide network.
Recently, SMC opened its Better World Diliman, it’s third Better World Community center, in less than a year. In partnership with social enterprise Rural Rising PH, SMC transformed an unused property to be a market for excess fresh produce bought from farmers at better-than-farmgate prices.