Companies move to eradicate malnutrition
A supplemental feeding program initiated by Odyssey Foundation Inc., the corporate social responsibility arm of meat processing company CDO Foodsphere Inc. aims to put an end to malnutrition, one child and community at a time.
For the last 10 years, ‘Gabay Nutrisyon,’ the supplemental feeding program of OFI has pursued its mission of saving underweight and severely malnourished children all over the country.
Malnutrition is one of the leading causes of death among children under five years old. Three million children die each year because of malnutrition, which is a condition when the body does not get the right amount of nutrients, minerals and vitamins that it needs.
Such is the magnitude of malnutrition worldwide that improving nutrition is a key component of the second of the 17 proposed Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs. In particular, the goal by 2030 is to “end all forms of malnutrition, including achieving by 2025 the internationally agreed targets on stunting and wasting in children under five years of age.”
Based from the latest anthropomorphic study conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, about 20.2 percent of Filipino children, 0 to 6 years old are underweight for their age, a sign that they have suffered or are suffering from acute malnutrition. Moreover, seven out of 100 children of the said age are wasting or underweight for their height.
“Urgent interventions are needed to reverse the health condition of those Filipino children. And a directly administered and closely monitored feeding program such as what we do in ‘Gabay Nutrisyon’ brings the needed results,” said Jerome Ong, president of Odyssey Foundation.
Gabay Nutrisyon, a community-based supplemental feeding program, provides nutritious heavy meals for 90 days to malnourished and severely underweight children to restore their health. The most recently completed supplemental feeding program was conducted in Tatalon, Quezon City in partnership with United Laboratories Inc. and the Great Lighthouse Foundation. The first batch started in October 2015. The program ended in February this year.
“Besides food-related problems such as hunger and malnutrition, we are also looking at the health profile of the family of the participants as well as the social aspect of the malnutrition problem in the area,” said Claire Papa, external affairs director of Unilab.
“It is important that a holistic approach is considered in addressing health issues so that the interventions are sustainable,” he said.
The partnership of the CSR arm of a leading food manufacturer and the country’s leading pharmaceutical and healthcare company can be considered as an ideal one, given their common thrust in advocating for the health and well-being of Filipino families. They have been serving the nutrition and healthcare needs of impoverished communities for over a decade now.
The Great Lighthouse Foundation, the community-centered arm of Lighthouse Bible Baptist Church, which has been at the forefront of community engagements in Tatalon as part of its ministry, ensured the efficient implementation of the feeding program on a daily basis. It mobilized its network of volunteers to help out.
“We engage the whole community—from the children to their mothers, who need to be educated about the importance of good nutrition. The preparation of food is done by our community members and volunteers, which enabled us to closely supervise the implementation. All of them played a part in making the program a success,” said Antonette Hernandez, nutritionist of Lighthouse Foundation. “The barangay nutrition workers and the barangay health workers were also our partners in monitoring the participation of the kids.”
“Just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes an entire community to nourish a child back to good health,” said Bishop Reuben Abante of Lighthouse Foundation. At the end of the 90-day program, the children should reach the normal nutritional status in terms of appropriate weight for their respective ages. Thus, they can proudly declare, “Malusog na po kami” (We are healthy again), in the culmination of the program.
During the feeding program, the children were provided with nutritious heavy meals carefully planned and provided by Odyssey Foundation in partnership with the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Nutrition Council of the Philippines. To complete the restoration of the children’s health, Unilab provided the daily vitamin supplements.
A medical and dental mission was also conducted by Lighthouse and Unilab, along with volunteers from different medical institutions, to determine if there were children who needed more than nutritional intervention.
Lighthouse also conducted values formation sessions during the course of the feeding program.
“All the components of Gabay Nutrisyon are very much in line with the core mission of our foundation. We have always been guided by the general framework of social development, firmly anchored on its principle of giving something back to the community. What better way of paying it forward than bringing nourishment to the future of our country,” said Ong.