The Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS) offers multiple options of spiritual nurturing. But its campus, located in Silang, Cavite, Philippines, also includes several ministries to help those in need within the community and beyond its walls. One of these, a project called God’s Food Basket, has served many of AIIAS’s self-supporting students with fresh produce, rice, and other groceries, and ready-to-eat meals.
Arceli Rosario, one of the founders and sponsoring faculty, recently shared about this initiative and how it has continued to provide throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hunger, a Shared Experience
“Hunger is a shared experience — the hunger that you feel is the same one that others feel,” Rosario’s mother used to tell her. Based on her mother’s words, she understood at a young age that the hunger she might feel in a given moment was, sadly, other people’s regular and ongoing experience.
When Rosario first arrived as a professor at AIIAS, she was inspired by a number of faculty and students who would buy groceries and cook for self-supporting students who did not have the means to buy food. Influenced by an Andrews University church project called God’s Abundant Pantry for those who could not afford to purchase for themselves, Rosario and two of her students, Evelyn Obo and Girlie Aguilar, felt called to do something similar at AIIAS. They officially launched God's Food Pantry on June 8, 2018.
What started as a family ministry soon involved the wider AIIAS community as the local women’s ministries department joined to support the initiative. To collect resources, baskets are placed at the AIIAS vegetable market every Friday, where community members can drop off fresh food items like fresh fruits and vegetables. Also, some AIIAS faculty and students, friends, and friends of friends have continued to support the God’s Food Basket ministry through cash and in-kind donations.
One Step Ahead
“God has provided in many amazing ways,” Rosario said. “Every Friday, there is always something in the ‘basket.’” One unforgettable experience, according to Rosario, was God’s provision a few days before the lockdown in March 2020, when one faculty member informed her that she had contributed money for God’s Food Basket through the AIIAS church. When Rosario checked, she was amazed at the amount. Why has she given so much? she wondered.
A few days later, the announcement of the lockdown came. Then Rosario understood that it was God's way of assuring her that He cares. Right away, with that money, she bought sacks of rice to ensure that there was sufficient supply during the lockdown.
Another experience that Rosario said she cannot forget took place during the pandemic. She was standing near the rows of food packed in plastic bags. One recipient came. Peering into the bag, he whispered, “Oh, Lord, thank you.” Rosario said she had witnessed many expressions of gratitude, but that one stood out.
A Multiplying Effect
“My dream is that this program may be replicated in other places. On school campuses, nobody should go hungry. I dream that others can also testify that God’s Food Basket never goes empty,” Rosario said. She noted that some alumni who took part in the project launched similar programs for self-supporting students in their respective countries.
“[Our ministry] wants to thank all of the donors for their generosity and prayers,” Rosario said. “We also want to thank its recipients for their joy when sharing their testimonies. [They remind us] that the Lord is good, generous, and that His love is amazing.”
The original version of this story was posted by the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies.