With the absence of face-to-face classes in the coming school year, the government is preparing to deliver ready-to-eat meals to students in their houses to ensure that they are getting enough nutrition amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles made the statement after the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed that some 5.2 million families experienced involuntary hunger in the past three months which he admits bothers the government.
He said there are three factors that play important roles in the government’s campaign against hunger, namely food productivity towards food security, food availability, and hidden hunger.
“In all three aspects meron po tayong ginagawang (we have a) national food policy roadmap kung saan mina-map-out natin ang lahat ng mga programa ng gobyerno patungkol sa (where we map-out the different programs related to) food productivity,” Nograles said.
However, the Palace official said the problem was how to carry out the government’s different supplemental food program, particularly those of the departments of Education (DepEd) and of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) since there are no face-to-face classes this coming school year.
“We have to make sure that the food basket or grocery packs or the food products that we give are nutritious,” he added.
According to Nograles, the Department of Science and Technology – Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST- FNRI) have developed several nutritious food products like enhanced Nutribun, ready-to-eat meals like instant arroz caldo or smoked fish packs, and “add-hot-water” food packs.
“Kailangan yung food packs na ibibgay natin bahay-bahay (The food that we will be distributing house-to-house) should contain, as much as possible, yung mga DOST-FNRI na ready-to-eat or yung mga nutritious food packs (the ready-to-eat or nutritious food packs of the DOST-FNRI),” he said.
“That way, we ensure natin na hindi lang sila makakakain ng tama, nutritious din (they’re the right and nutritious food),” he added.
Nograles, however, said the DOST-FNRI needs the support of local government units (LGUs) to produce these nutritious food packs.
“Pag nag-host ang LGU ng production center, ita-transfer ng DOST-FNRI yung technology tapos yung pag-process at pag-distribute niyan would be through the LGUs (When the LGU hosts the production center, the DOST-FNRI would transfer the technology and the LGUs would be the one to process and distribute the food),” he added.
The LGUs would also be linked to farmer organizations accredited by the Department of Agriculture (DA) so they can directly buy the ingredients they need in processing the food packs. Nograles said this will also help farmers sell their products.
“That way, yung mga products nila, meron nang ready buyer which is government. Bibilhin ng gobyerno, walang middle man, lahat ng kita mapupunta sa farmers organizations (That way, farmers will have a ready buyer, which is the government. There will be no middle man so the proceeds will go straight to these farmer organizations),” he said.