Almost 600 grade one pupils of Gen. T. De Leon Elementary School will benefit from a supplementary feeding program sponsored by Wyeth after the pharmaceutical company partnered with the City Government of Valenzuela and Synergeia Foundation in advocating proper nutrition to Valenzuelano school children and their parents.
Dubbed “Nurture Nutrition,” the program kicked off at the school’s campus grounds and will run for eight months until March when the children are expected to finish their crucial first year in grade school.
Volunteer employees brought in by Wyeth, staff of Synergia and parents took part in serving meals of rice and ginisang munggo with malunggay leaves to children. After their hearty meal, the enthusiastic grade schoolers also made puppets using pencils to make them appear as ampalaya (bitter melon). Volunteers from Museong Pambata, meanwhile, had a storytelling session about, still, the green vegetable that was not mentioned in the popular folk song Bahay Kubo. Many say the iron-rich vegetable is not popular to kids due to its bitter taste.
The Nurture Nutrition program will feed children every school day with a variety of nutritious foods to supplement their required dietary allowance (RDA), a set of standards that guides a person’s food intake to avoid nutrition deficiencies.
School Principal Dr. Aida San Juan said, it would be difficult for students to learn in school if they come to class with an empty stomach. “A program like this will help our students tide over and also their parents to become more aware that nutrition is just as important as books in learning,” she said.
Mrs. Corazon Gusi, 47, mother to one of the beneficiaries, took it by example citing “marami sa atin ang hindi nakatutugon sa mga pangangailangan ng kalusugan dahil sa kahirapan (Many are unable to sustain our health needs due to poverty) Pero hindi kailangan ang mga kilalang mga pagkain na mamahalin; kahit gulay o isda ok na. (But we don’t really need expensive branded foods; vegetables or fishes will do),” she explained. She also advised other mothers to utilize idle space to plant vegetables at their own homes to augment with their food requirements.
Synergeia’s Chief Executive Officer Dr. Milwida M. Guevara, on the other hand, encouraged parents to carefully watch over the foods their children buy in school to eat. “Nutritious foods are not expensive, junk foods are,” she said after helping out the organizers in clearing up the dishes.
Richard Arboleda, Associate Director for Communications of Wyeth said the selection of the school was made in collaboration with Synergeia Foundation to find the most ideal beneficiary out of its existing partners. Of the three public schools the company has adopted for the project across the country, Gen. T. de Leon Elementary School was picked because of its “existing good programs and structures provided by [local authorities].”
“Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian is a big supporter of education and support of the local government is crucial to ensure the success of this advocacy,” he said.
Other schools covered by the program are Making Elementary School in Parang, Maguindanao and Domingo and Jovita Rodriguez Memorial Elementary School in Talisay, Negros Occidental.
Valenzuela City Government, through the administration of City Mayor Sherwin Gatchalian, launched in 2008 the comprehensive WIN Ang Edukasyon Program and since then the basic education sector has achieved remarkable improvements in terms of physical facilities and academic performance of the students in public schools.
The City Government tied up with Synergeia Foundation, a non-government organization to “implement systemic programs that will improve the processes, systems and structures of learning and teaching” in all public schools in Valenzuela City.
District 2 Councilor Lorie Natividad Borja, Action Officer of the WIN Ang Edukasyon Program, said the sponsor is also in talks with their office on how to engage the parents more in sustaining the project. She said the program would also help train parents to come up with meal plans designed to achieve balanced nutrition without denting much on their family budget.
She added that beneficiaries would also be monitored to check the effects of the feeding program to their physical growth and development.