The Rise Against Hunger campaign, a global effort to end malnutrition, was launched last week in an event supported by the Department of Health and food giant Nestlé Philippines.
The organizers stressed that malnutrition has been overlooked as a serious health problem for decades yet data showed it affects 795 million people worldwide annually.
In the Philippines, children alone account for about seven million people who experience hunger and malnutrition, an ironic image of a country with a growing economy, the organizers added.
“We are a vital market, an advantageous country filled with young and skilled workforce,” said Senator Grace Poe during the #HangeraboutHunger event staged by United for Healthier Kids (U4HK).
Nestlé launched U4HK, an initiative to focus on addressing child malnutrition, in 2014 with other partner companies to raise awareness and tap other organizations to support their cause.
Their recent advocacy used a millennial word ‘hanger’ a combination of ‘hunger’ and ‘anger’ that describes the frustration one feels when hungry.
Many are angered after missing a meal yet they fail to recognize that millions are unable to eat meals for days.
In a survey during the last quarter of 2015 showed 2.6 million Filipino families or around 12 million Filipinos experience involuntary hunger.
“The daily struggle to find a decent meal is real,” so they resort to ‘pagpag,’ said Poe.
Pagpag are collected food scraps from trash bins that are recooked for consumption.
Research conducted by Nestlé Philippines found out that the top three staple foods of the poorest families are boiled saba, diluted porridge, and grounded corn.
These do not provide the children’s daily-required nutrients.
In response, U4HK established a website where anyone can help through three simple ways–donate, volunteer, and share–to increase the range of their help.
“Nutrition absorption should be focused on as early as conception but it has remained unnoticed by an uninformed and an uneducated public where its alarming and deteriorating effects are unknown,” the organizers said.
The Department of Health (DOH) recently partnered with Rise Against Hunger (formerly Stop Hunger Now) for a project that will provide one hundred nutritionally-at-risk women one packed meal a day to provide a third of her daily required nutrients.
This project will last for one thousand days as part of the First 1000 Days intervention of DOH to pregnant mothers to decrease low birth weight rates and other birth defects.
This is because a child’s first one thousand days is crucial to his or her future health, as physical development – or lack of – during this period is irreversible.
The rice-based meals that will be provided to 50 women in Porac, Pampanga and 50 women in Candelaria, Zambales will serve as a supplement to meet their daily nutrient requirements.
It has 23 essential vitamins and minerals and comes in five flavors.
This, however, is not a replacement of the daily three meals, the DOH said.
The project by Rise for Hunger is being carried out in six countries, including the Philippines.
“It is the first time they are doing it in the Philippines and we are also the recipients,” said Enrique Tayag, Assistant Secretary of Health.
It is also the first time the packing of the meals is being done outside United States, he noted.