Ways of ending threat of hunger in PHL discussed in multi-sectoral forum PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 16 November 2014 14:27

By LEILANI S. JUNIO

 

“Hunger is not just lack of food on the table. From our point of view, hunger can be addressed by having a secured place like — home, education and health center that will collaborate together to ensure that hunger is being addressed.”

This was the key message of Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Corazon J. Soliman during a multisectoral forum entitled “”Aiming for #ZeroHunger” held on Friday at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM) in Makati City.

The forum was organized jointly by the DSWD with media partner Rappler and the World Food Programme (WFP) to raise awareness and inspire action against the continuing threat of hunger in the country.

Secretary Soliman noted that hunger is not just the absence of food, but is also about the insecurity situation wherein a family does not know where to get the next food to eat.

She said that hunger is the threat that the DSWD is trying to address through the Supplementary Feeding Program (SFP), Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) and the just recently-launched partnership program with the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) farmer beneficiaries.

She cited that under SFP, the daycare centers in local government units and barangays conduct feeding program to the daycare children, with the food being cooked by the mothers of the said children.

“For 2013-2014, we are working with SFP in serving 1,692,000 children in 53,495 daycare centers in the country covering 1,630 local government units,” she said.

Under the 4Ps program, she explained that the latest impact evaluation reveals that 30 percent of the grants received by the family beneficiaries goes to food or buying rice and nutritious foods for the children to keep them healthy.

The partnership with the Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries of DAR, on the other hand, helps the farmers since the products of the farmers are bought by the day care centers which in turn are being used in the SFP program.

The DSWd chief said this is currently done in Camarines Sur in Region 5, Region 8 and Region 9 and the project is proving to be beneficial to both the day-care children and the farmers who need assistance and support from the government.

Meanwhile, WFP Country Director Praveen Agrawal said during the same forum, “We believe that hunger is the world’s most solvable problem. We can solve hunger and we must solve hunger.”

Agrawal pointed out the need to reduce malnutrition or hunger among the children below the age of two years.

He said that other ways to reduce hunger include reducing wastage and empowerment of vulnerable sectors.

“We can do that if we accept the challenge to have 100% access to adequate food,” said Agrawal.

WFP is one of the international organizations providing assistance to the undernourished children in the country and those affected by disasters.

Agrawal pointed out the need to ensure that there is enough political will, commitment and close collaboration both in the Executive and Legislative branches of government.

Senator Grace Poe, who was also a guest speaker in the forum, said she is supporting the initiatives to fight hunger in the country by filing a bill entitled “Sustansya ng Batang Pilipino” calling for free lunch among children in public schools in the country.

Senator Poe said the proposed law will help a lot in producing more intelligent and productive children because studies have shown that children perform better if their stomachs are not hungry or filled with food.

Based on the last Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey, about 4.8 million Filipino families said they experienced involuntary hunger at least once in the past three months.

“The forum was organized by Rappler in partnership with DSWD and WFP in order to inspire social media users to come out with sensible and inspiring posts that will move people to action,” said Glenda Gloria, managing editor of Rappler.

Gloria stressed that while everyone in the room during the forum believes that hunger can be solved and can be stopped, such will only be possible through strong collaboration.