Groups seek public's help in ending hunger, malnourishment in PH

Jasmin Romero and Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 20 2021 08:14 PM | Updated as of Jul 21 2021 12:01 AM

FNRI: Breast feeding no longer enough to keep babies over 6 months old nutritionally healthy 

Groups seek public's help in ending hunger, malnourishment in PH 1
Displaced residents from Barangays Bilibinwang and Banyaga receive food assistance at an evacuation center in Agoncillo, Batangas on Juy 5, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Members of Pilipinas Kontra Gutom, a movement that seeks to address involuntary hunger in the country, have called on the public to help in their mission to alleviate hunger and malnutrition among Filipinos. 

In a virtual webinar, the movement's public and private sector partners underscored the importance of feeding hungry families, especially children 5 years old and below. 

Over 4.2 million Filipino families experienced "involuntary hunger" from April 28 to May 2 this year “due to lack of food to eat," 

Cabinet Secretary and Task force Zero Hunger Chairman Karlo Nograles said, citing an SWS survey. 

Nograles said the figure rose by 0.8 percent or an estimated 200,000 families from November last year, when the hunger rate was at 16 percent or some 4 million families.

“Although this is 4.3 points below the 2020 annual average of 21.1% it is still double the December 2019 pre-pandemic level of 8.8 percent," Nograles explained. 

“Hindi man kaaya-aya ang larawang pinipinta ng mga numerong ito, kailangan nating banggitin dahil ito ang magtatakda ng mga susunod nating hakbang,” he added.

(The figures are not appealing but we need to say this to move forward to our next steps)

Pilipinas Kontra Gutom aims to alleviate hunger of 1 million Filipino families by 2022 and targets zero hunger by 2030.

Since its launch in February, the group has been working on, among others, educating families especially mothers on how to feed their children affordable and nutritious food, instead of just spoon-feeding them for 120 days.

“In the feeding model.. because of the costs we can only reach 20,000 kids... the effect after 4 months is at 100 percent. After 4 months, balik malnourished ang bata,” Kain Tayo Pilipinas lead Kristine Go said.

"In the education model, we were able to stretch the same budget for 100,000 kids. Instead of feeding [for] 120 days, we taught the mothers how to take care of herself and her family, how to breastfeed, the right immunization for the kids... and most importantly we taught her that for as low as P6 per person per meal, she can feed her family delicious and nutritious meals," she added.

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Malnourishment has long been a public concern, as it causes stunting among children and permanently affecting them physically, mentally and socially.

This is why the movement plans to reach mothers they could educate and to "automatically reach" an average of 3 children in addressing the problem. 

“Since this is not a spoon feeding exercise... mas maraming bata ang nari-reach natin (we've been able to reach more children), we were able to improve the lives of 2.5 times more malnourished children... 5 times more children, sustainable way. 'Yung tuloy-tuloy ang kanilang nutrition hanggang sa paglaki nila (where their nutrition is sustained until they grow up),” said Go.

The group hopes to reach 11 million kids, especially those below 5 years old, citing the first 1,000 days of children as the “most critical."

WHAT THE PUBLIC CAN DO

The group appeals to the public to support the anti-hunger campaign by launching kaintayopilipinas.com, asking donations for the program and for people to care about the nation’s poor.

“Government cannot do this fight alone especially because we are facing a pandemic, we really need the help of the private sector,” Nograles noted.

“Ang hindi nagugutom, pwedeng tumulong,” National Program Head of Kusina ng Kalinga Mark Cruz added.

(Those who do not experience hunger can help.)

The Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) is celebrating nutrition month this July with the theme: "Malnutrisyon patuloy na labanan, First 1,000 days tutukan! (Fight malnutrition by focusing on the first 1,000 days)"

The institute has already released nutritional information and recipes to help feed infants and young children aged 6 to 23 months old. 

The menu guide for complementary feeding highlights the importance of choosing an infant's food to help them become healthy. 

You can visit FNRI's food guide here

BREAST FEEDING NO LONGER ENOUGH AFTER 6 MOS.

In an online video, the FNRI said breast milk for infants aged 6 months above would no longer be enough to provide their nutritional needs. 

This is the time when complementary food would be needed, the research institute added. 

"Complementary feeding ay ang transition mula sa ekslusibong pagpapasuso ng sanggol hanggang sa pagbibigay ng pagkain kasabay ang pagpapasuso pagsapit niya ng 6 na buwan," FNRI Director Imelda Angeles-Agdeppa explained in a video published earlier this month.

(Complementary feeding is the transition from exclusive breast feeding until they reach 6 months old, where they can eat soft food)

"Sa gulang na 6 na buwan, ang gatas ng ina ay hindi na sapat upang matugunan ang mga matataas o tumataas na pangangailangan na pang nutrisyon ng sanggol," Agdeppa said. 

(At the age of 6 months, breast milk is no longer enough to address the infant's increasing nutritional demands)

Complementary food includes rice porridge, sweet potato, ripe banana, papaya, and mangoes, among others.

Ground monggo and small pieces of chicken meat will also be allowed depending on the child's growth and nutritional needs.

"Sa ika-walong buwan, ibigay ang malapot na lugaw, malambot na kanin, at malambot na prutas, nilagang itlog, custards, puddings, niluto na malambot na gulay," the seasoned scientist said, noting that babies as young as 10 months could be given any fruits, fish, and poultry as long as they are mashed.

(When the infant reaches its 8th month, thick porridge, soft rice, soft fruits, boiled eggs and soft cooked vegetables could be given.)

Providing complementary and quality food to children between 6 months and 2 years "lack food diversity in their diet," according to FNRI. 

"Hindi nakakakuha ng tamang klase at frequency 'yung kadalasan na pagkain na [dapat] ay naibibigay sa mga bata. 'Pag ganito po ang sitwasyon natin, ito ay malala na problema," she said. 

(They no longer get the right food and frequency, the food that they need at their age. When this is our current situation, it is already alarming.)

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Based on figures from the United Nations’ State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World Report 2021, hunger increased around the world by 1.5 percent to 9.9 percent or 811 million people between 2019 and 2020, from 8.4 percent or 720 million the previous year.