400 families get free grocery items, technical support

More than 400 families from the 43 barangays of Batac City have received last January 18 free grocery items from the Mariano Marcos State University (MMSU) as a gesture of support and of thanking them on their involvement in the university’s development programs.


The activity become an instant highlight of the Community Day that was conducted at the university’s covered court, which is part of the monthlong celebration of MMSU’s 41st foundation anniversary. The theme of the activity was “MMSU @ 41: Making Lifelong Learning an Opportunity for All.”


“We call it community day, because some of these families are also beneficiaries of MMSU extension activities in line with agriculture, livestock, rice and vegetable productions, and animal and seed dispersal programs,” said Dr. Aris Reynold Cajigal, director of MMSU’s extension directorate.


“This is also one way of sharing to them the many blessings that MMSU has received in the last 41 years. And we want to give these goodies as post-Christmas gifts to them who literally belong to the low-income families of this city,” Cajigal said, noting that most of them are also beneficiaries of the government’s  Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), a conditional cash transfer program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).


He said the recipients were carefully selected and evaluated by the City Social Welfare Office.


Cajigal said the university did not spend a single centavo to buy the grocery items, because the amount was voluntarily contributed by the students, officials, and rank-and-file employees of MMSU. Each package contains canned goods and noodles, among other food items.


Aside from the free groceries, they also learned how to process simple and indigenous foods through demonstration activities conducted by food experts from the MMSU College of Industrial Technology.


“Giving them free foods is something, but teaching them to process food items and engage in a small business is a lifelong personal accomplishment,” Cajigal said.


Meanwhile, MMSU President Shirley C. Agrupis said she is happy that these families came to celebrate the 41st foundation anniversary of MMSU. She informed them that the university’s Food Innovation Center (FIC) is now in full swing and is mandated to support the province’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs).


“We want you to know that FIC, which is one of the programs of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), is mandated to train people like you in food processing so that you might engage into a more profitable business someday,” Dr. Agrupis said, encouraging them to form an organization, preferably a cooperative, “so that we can start helping you put up a small business.


“For s start, we can help you make bakery products such as cheesecake from yams,” Dr. Agrupis said, promising that “we will conduct in-house trainings for you so that you master the technologies from food processing until packaging and marketing aspects of your product,” she said.


“If not, you can choose what business opportunity you want to pursue. If you want to process meat, vegetables, and fruits into competitive products, we can help you. And if we don’t have the technology, we look somebody elsewhere who has the capability to train you. That is how important you are to us,” Dr. Agrupis said.