MANILA — Government should address the country's food systems and quickening inflation to fully solve problems on hunger and access to food, the National Nutrition Council said on Wednesday.
Ellen Ruth Abella, a nutrition officer at the agency, said the rising prices of food makes it difficult for the public to buy quality products, as their purchasing power also weakened.
A P50 bill, for example, cannot even buy rice and viand for one individual.
"So, anumang pagtaas po ng presyo ng bilihin ay ang resulta po nito ay lumiliit po iyong kapasidad ng ating mga mamamayan na makabili ng makakain na sapat," said Abella in a public briefing.
"Napakalaki ng epekto nito para makabili ng sapat – kapag sinabi po kasi sa nutrisyon ng ‘sapat’, ito po ay sapat na pagkain in terms of quality… ibig sabihin iyong nutrients na kinakailangan ng katawan ay nandoon sa binibiling pagkain," she added.
"Kailangan nating ayusin iyong ating food systems, iyong network natin para siguraduhin na iyong supply ng pagkain at presyo ay makakarating sa ating mga tahanan at makakain po ito ng bawat pamilyang Pilipino," she said.
Abella, citing data from the Social Weather Stations (SWS), said while individuals who experienced hunger in 2020 decreased from 20 million to 13.5 million individuals this year, this was still high compared to pre-pandemic levels.
An SWS poll released on May 11 found that 2.7 million Pinoy households or 9.8 percent experienced involuntary hunger "at least once in the past 3 months."
This was lower from the 3 million families (11.8 percent) recorded in December 2022 but higher than the 2.1 million families (8.8 percent) in December 2019 or just months before the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, SWS said.
While the figures have improved, she pointed out reasons why many still cannot have food access despite the recovering economy.
"Sumiklab naman iyong war Ukraine and Russia kung saan ang naging epekto naman nito sa Pilipinas at sa buong mundo ay iyong pagtaas ng presyo ng fuel, ng fertilizer, ng feeds at pagkain, lalo na iyong inaangkat natin sa ibang bansa," she said.
The official said her agency is crafting a Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition to combat food insecurity and malnutrition, as well as targeted dietary supplementation program.
The social welfare department on Tuesday said they plan to roll out the food stamp program from July to December this year, with the full implementation eyed to happen by early 2024.
Social Welfare Secretary Rex Gatchalian said they already identified 1 million target families for the "Walang Gutom 2027," which would come from the agency's "Listahanan 3."
Target beneficiaries will receive food credits worth P3,000 "to purchase a select list of food commodities from DSWD-accredited local retailers."
Video from RTVM