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Monday, 03 July 2023

Nutrition Month highlights accessible, affordable food for all

By Jennifer P. Gaitano

Various stakeholders in Caraga Region led by the National Nutrition Council (NNC) participated in the kick-off activities of the 49th National Nutrition Month today, July 3, to heighten the campaign on accessible and affordable food for all. 

In Caraga Region, the said celebration began with a motorcade within the thoroughfares of Butuan City which was joined by representatives from the regional line agencies, government-owned and controlled corporations, state colleges and universities, civil society organizations and other sectoral organizations. This was followed by an opening program at the Organic Agricultural Training Center (OATC) in Caraga State University (CSU) main campus of this city. Media practitioners were also engaged in the press conference with the officials and members of the Regional Nutrition Cluster (RNC).

Dr. Cesar Cassion, regional director of the Department of Health (DOH) Caraga, emphasized that this year's National Nutrition Month is a call for everyone to make nutritious food accessible and affordable for all.

"With this celebration, let us make informed choices on our health, participate and contribute positive insights on health and nutrition; and be part in addressing malnutrition in the communities," cited Dr. Cassion.

Dr. Niño Archie Labordo, regional nutrition program coordinator of the National Nutrition Council (NNC) Caraga, also bared that this year's National Nutrition Month focuses on two things namely, healthy diet and affordable food for the Filipino people. "When we say food affordability, it means the capacity to pay a market price for food compared to the proportion of a household's income and other expenses. However, there is a challenge on the prices of food which is getting higher," he said.

"There are three levels of diet quality to wit, energy sufficient diet that meets needs for short-term subsistence; nutrient adequate diet that meets required levels of all essential nutrients; and healthy diet that includes food from several food groups and has greater diversity within the food groups," Dr. Labordo added.

Further, Labordo reiterated the roles and responsibilities of the member agencies of the Regional Nutrition Committee (RNC) and the Regional Nutrition Technical Working Group (RNTWG) in the fulfillment of the nutrition programs in the region. He also asked the support of the civil society organizations, which include the Gawad Kalinga, and to the members Association of Barangay Council (ABC).

On behalf of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Caraga assistant regional director and officer-in-charge Engr. Donald Seronay, Elenita Mandap, planning officer III/chairperson of the Regional Nutrition Evaluation Team (RNET), called on all parents to ensure nutritious food intake of their children to prevent malnutrition, and to support family members who are pregnant, so they may receive proper care for a healthy pregnancy and to have a safe delivery and healthy baby. She also stressed the need to practice exclusive breastfeeding to infants.

Meanwhile, Technical Director for Operations Rebecca Atega, who represented Engr. Ricardo Oñate, regional director of the Department of Agriculture Caraga and vice chairperson of the Regional Nutrition Committee (RNC), emphasized that without agriculture, there will be no adequate food for everyone. Hence, agriculture ensures food security to all Filipinos.

"The DA helps our government in generating food for all the Caraganon households, making it accessible and affordable," she said.

Dr. Victor Emmanuel Ozarraga, director of Gawad Kalinga, and co-chairperson of Regional Development Council (RDC) Caraga, elaborated that they have been engaging and implementing programs in the different barangays depending on their needs.

"Everyone is equal in worth and dignity. In Gawad Kalinga, we work with family, LGUs, and other sectors in the communities. There are people who can not afford to buy food for themselves and their families because of poverty and unemployment, and that is our focus, to help them sustain life. We are lucky that we have the capacity of doing something to address this concern," he said.

Also, Gemma Tabada, president of the Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) and punong barangay of Baan Km. 3, highlighted that their barangay nutrition scholars are doing their best in monitoring the health and nutrition status particularly of the children in their area.

She also encouraged the youth to learn to love agriculture, appreciate backyard gardening, and help the nation in securing food for all Filipinos.

Meanwhile, Dr. Cassion, Dr. Labordo and the representatives from other government agencies, civil society organizations, and guests, led the unveiling of the 2023 National Nutrition Month logo.

All the participating sectors then expressed their commitment to support the government and uphold the right of every Filipino to accessible and affordable nutritious food, and integrate actions on transforming the food system towards a healthy diet.

The NNC celebrates National Nutrition Month by enjoining Filipinos from all walks of life to adopt a healthy diet and above all to make it a lifetime habit. (JPG/PIA Caraga)