A new feeding program by the Valenzuela City local government promotes not only children’s health but that of their mothers as well.
Launched this weekend, February 15 and 16, the Barangay-based Feeding Program (BBFP) aims to combat malnutrition among children in the city aged six months to five years by regularly providing them with nutritious, ready-to-cook food.
The BBFP has selected 3,538 children from poor families to receive food packages that are appropriate for their age and health status, to be rationed at the barangay health stations every two weeks for three years.
An underweight child aged six months to two years may receive a two 100-gram packs of champorado, two 24-gram packs of squash and malunggay soup, two 100-gram packs of chicken soup, two 100-gram packs of beef soup, and two 24-gram packs of banana-and-oats meal. This supply is good for two weeks.
Nutrition Program Coordinator Ms. Winona Villanueva said, “The age period, six months to five years, is very crucial in the child’s growth and development. The adverse effects of malnutrition incurred during this period are often irreversible. Most malnourished children grow stunted and find it difficult to learn their lessons in school.”
BBFP children will also go to playschool sessions conducted by barangay health workers who have been trained by international children’s welfare organization Save the Children.
For children to remain in the program, parents will have to fulfill some conditions.
BBFP Action Officer Janina Bautista said a parent must regularly bring her child to the barangay health station for weighing, check-up and vaccination. Pregnant mothers would also have to go to prenatal check-ups and give birth in a health facility.
City Mayor REX Gatchalian shared, “We consider mothers as the frontliners of the BBFP. Whether the children will be fed well or not largely depends on their mothers. So we make it a point that the BBFP takes care of the mothers as well.”
The BBFP is the third feeding program by the local government, along with the K-to-6 Citywide Feeding Program, for underweight children in kindergarten and elementary school; and the 120-Day Supplemental Feeding Program, for all day care children.
Results of the Community-based Monitoring System (CBMS) by the local government in 2012 show 2.6 per cent of children aged below five years old in the city are underweight, around 10 times lower than the regional average of 20.7 per cent.
The local government has allotted PhP 73,500,000 for 2013 to 2015 to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, the first of the eight Millennium Development Goals.
Health care and social services is one the local government’s “Five Pillars of Good Governance”, or the priority areas of development, along with job generation, housing, education, trade and industry.