GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/13 March) – A total of 9,378 school children in Lake Sebu town in South Cotabato and several other areas in the country have benefited from feeding programs and other related initiatives conducted by an international child welfare organization in the last three years.
Fanny Divino, program manager for South Central Mindanao of Save the Children, said they launched the feeding programs for three consecutive years since 2009 in the lean months of August to October
to mainly help poor children remain in school.
Aside from the feeding programs, she said they provided livelihood assistance to 287 poor families as well as helped improve the capabilities of 662 health care providers and 268 community health workers.
“The participating families have significantly improved household food security, increased food diversity scores and gained economic opportunities,” she said during the program’s exit conference held in Lake Sebu town Tuesday.
Dubbed “Making Food Go Further,” Divino said the project was also implemented in marginalized communities in Paranaque City in Metro Manila and San Remigio town in Antique.
The three-year project, which was supported by international food firm Kraft Foods Inc., was mainly aimed at ensuring “that Filipino children are healthy and well-nourished, and belong to food-secure families by facilitating families’ access to food,” a Save the Children statement said.
It said the project focused on mitigating hunger among vulnerable groups; supporting livelihood activities of families; raising awareness on health and nutrition though the help of communities,
government agencies and the private sector; and, enabling communities to address issues affecting children, particularly hunger and malnutrition.
In Lake Sebu, Divino said they held sessions on feeding, deworming and vitamin supplementation among residents of the community-beneficiaries.
She said they educated residents on proper health practices through the Positive Deviance/Hearth Approach, wherein “families , communities and schools work together to quickly rehabilitate malnourished children, sustain the rehabilitation and prevent future malnutrition.”
Through the project, Divino said they helped improve the capacity of local health workers in recognizing and immediately referring for treatment the severely malnourished children in their areas.
“To sustain the project, we provided assistance to several families in the area for livelihood ventures such as vegetable growing, loom weaving, food processing, abaca production and cutflower growing,” she said.
“Save the Children wants to prove that communities can fight hunger as one and have the power to make children’s lives better,” Divino added.
During the exit conference, the group challenged local government leaders in the province and officials of several government agencies to adopt the project and replicate them in other poor communities.
South Cotabato officials led by Gov. Arthur Pingoy Jr. immediately expressed commitment to sustain the project and push for legislations as well as allot resources for more hunger mitigation and nutrition initiatives in the area. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)