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‘Nutritious’ food packs for preschool pupils

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By Prince Golez

The government has promised to continue its food programs for Filipino children even as the country continues to grapple with challenges posed by the coronavirus disease pandemic.

In a statement released on Monday, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the ongoing health crisis “compels us to revisit government food security and nutrition programs as we now have to factor in the challenges brought about by this pandemic.”

Nograles, chairperson of the government’s Task Force on Zero Hunger, said he plans to work with concerned agencies to “retool” initiatives such as the feeding programs.

“For example, we may need to re-operationalize the supplemental feeding program in daycare centers through the provision of nutritious food packs. Instead of hot meals, daycare students can be provided with nutritious food packs which may include vegetable noodles (malunggay/ squash/ carrots), rice, and nutribuns, among others,” he said during the virtual edition of Tapatan sa Aristocrat.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development, according to him, may distribute the food packs in coordination with barangay day care centers.

To safely implement the school-based feeding program of the Department of Education, Nograles said the government should “get creative” and adopt mechanisms to reach out to underfed school children.

Local government units must prioritize rations for poor households through barangay registries or with data from public schools to ensure they have adequate and healthy meals for their children, the Palace official added.

This year’s nutrition month, which is observed every July, aims to promote awareness and mobilize actions to address stunting.

Nograles said that stunting can lead to low educational performance, lost productivity, increased risk of developing non-communicable diseases, and even death.

Its economic cost is estimated at 1.5 to 3 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, he concluded.

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