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Strengthening the school nutrition program in the Philippines
Posted on July 25, 2014 by garnesupp
The influence of fast food stores, changing lifestyles with both parents working, a poor knowledge of dietary nutrition, and reduced intake of fruits and vegetables are contributory factors to the problem of malnutrition among school children.

Recently the government of the Philippines has put in frameworks to support a program of school level gardening, bringing together agencies such as the Department of Education and the Department of Agriculture. The school feeding program is receiving increased attention in the past two years. Overall the opportunities for leveraging the nutrition contributions of school gardens have been considerably enhanced.

In the past few years the Philippines has a national program on school gardening. The International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR), Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI) and the Department of Education Cavite Province are working on a program to demonstrate the value of linking three related areas of school nutrition: gardening, feeding and nutrition education. This IDRC supported program (See video here) is designed to generate evidence on the value of school gardens and to establish on the ground demonstrations of the value of linking feeding programs to school garden programs.

The school gardening program uses an environmentally sound approach to produce a diverse range of vegetables with no chemical inputs of any kind. A diverse garden guarantees good nutrition providing Vitamin A and C, Iron, Calcium, Protein and various other micronutrients. To link gardens and school feeding program, standardized recipes that are appetizing to school kids were developed by FNRI.

The IDRC supported project is also designed to generate educational resources for use in scaling out the program to other schools. Posters are designed to provide key educational messages for children, teachers and parents. These posters have been distributed to as many as 5 provinces all over the country.

Within the next months IIRR, FNRI and the Department of Education plan to bring this experience and these results to the policy makers in Manila in the hope of influencing the national efforts in school nutrition. IIRR is also working to support the work of the Department of Social Welfare in day care centers in the province of Cavite.

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