Giniling na Mais, nilagang Saba, and malabnaw na Lugaw—can you imagine having these meals on a daily basis?
This is the reality for Cedrick, Dexter, and Vanessa, 8-year-old children living in different parts of the Philippines. Hunger may be a growing global concern, but for these children, it is a daily battle.
Cedrick, who lives with his parents and six siblings in Legazpi, Albay, subsists daily on giniling na mais, which is made using corn grit, rice, coconut milk and just a little salt or sugar for added flavor. Each serving costs about P47.00 and provides 53% Calcium, 21% Vitamin A, 0% Vitamin C, according to the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI).
For 8-year-old Vanessa of Tagum City, Davao del Norte her daily meals are comprised of bananas, rice, or instant noodles. She only manages to eat twice a day. Each plate of saging na saba offers only 32% of Vitamin C, 11% of Vitamin A and 11% Calcium.
Having been made to stop studying due to financial constraints, she now helps her mom sort through garbage at the dumpsite for things to sell.
Over 500 kilometers from Vanessa’s home, we find Dexter, an 8-year-old living in Cebu City. Because of his Pedicab driver father’s unstable income, only Dexter and his two siblings are able to go to school while their two other siblings stay at home with their mom.
Dexter’s mom makes lugaw once a day, diluting the water to increase the portions, to feed their family of 7. Each bowl of lugaw offers 16% iron and zero vitamins.
Often, however, Dexter is forced to stay home and sleep off his hunger.
According to Lancaster General Health, kids aged 6 to 9 need hearty meals with healthy doses of Calcium, Riboflavin, Protein, Niacin, Iron, Vitamins A, C, D, K, E, and Thiamin.
These kids’ daily battle is part of a larger war on hunger.
7 Million Filipino children suffer from hunger and malnutrition: how can we help?
The public health problem of hunger can be alleviated by giving those in need adequate access to nutritious food as well as promoting nutrition education and improving health and sanitation services.
Well known personalities have used their influence to shed light on this pressing societal concern that not only affects children’s health, but their futures as well.
Spearheading this fight is Senator Grace Poe who has joined forces with Nestle’s United for Healthier Kids multi-sectoral advocacy to bring this issue to the forefront and to spur people into action.
“We must collectively work together to take care of our children and ensure that they are able to take advantage of the opportunities presented to them.”
“A generation of Filipino children are already hindered from reaching their full potential if they are hungry and deprived of the nutrition they need to learn in school and stay active,” said Senator Poe in a keynote speech at a forum on malnutrition organized by Nestle Philippines. “We must collectively work together to take care of our children and ensure that they are able to take advantage of the opportunities presented to them.”
A systemic approach is what Nestlé Philippines Chairman and CEO Jacques Reber will work in reducing hunger and malnutrition.
“We need to harness the energy and ideas of young people, who have demonstrated their will and capacity to shape the Philippines into a country whose people are able to lead prosperous and healthy lives.”
“We need to bring together organizations with expertise in various subjects, from access to food, nutrition education, water, sanitation, and hygiene, to nutrition in disaster. We need to harness the energy and ideas of young people, who have demonstrated their will and capacity to shape the Philippines into a country whose people are able to lead prosperous and healthy lives,” he said, adding that, since it was founded in 1905, Nestlé has been committed to feeding and nourishing the hungry.
As for Vice-President Leni Robredo, the fight against malnutrition can be won if all sectors of society worked together.
“We believe that the first freedom that has to be won in our country is the freedom from hunger,” said the Vice-President. “As part of our advocacy, we have been focusing on maternal, neo-natal, and child health and nutrition, especially in the prevention of stunting. Ultimately, we must focus on the nutrition of our children, for they are the key to our future. This would be a good chance for you to make the first step in making our country better for all Filipinos.”
Learn more about United for Healthier kids here.
READ: PH has highest rate of stunting among children worldwide
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