The war on hunger has never been as prevalent as it is in our current times. The devastating COVID-19 pandemic not only took Filipino lives, but also rendered thousands jobless, and hundreds more businesses further closed as effect of the community quarantines. Naturally, this led to the significant increase in child hunger instances not just in Davao de Oro, but in the entire country.

Children are the most affected by the pandemic for the following reasons: one, the current high unemployment rate has led to the increase of child hunger instances in the province since implementation of the community quarantines; two, education for all levels was compelled to be postponed—therefore cutting the momentum of their learning and further extending the time that children will spend in schools and universities in addition to the recently added K-12 program; three, the challenges posed to them by the newly implemented distance learning, given that not all children in the province have the capacity to join online classes. PLGU-Davao de Oro now poises to address these challenges one by one, starting with deadliest issue of the three: hunger.

The Bayanihan Para sa Kalusugan-Kusina ng Kalinga (KNK) Program

Running since 2016, the Bayanihan Para sa Kalusugan-Kusina ng Kalinga (KNK) “End Hunger” Program has provided free lunches to malnourished public school children in all eleven municipalities of Davao de Oro, to end the hunger which greatly affects not only the children’s health, but also their academic performance. This resulted to the significant decrease of child hunger instances in the province through the years. In fact, Davao de Oro has recorded the lowest number of child malnutrition incidences in Region XI since 2017 up to the recent year of 2019.

Adopting the concept from Gawad Kalinga (GK), PLGU-Davao de Oro further incorporated the Ateneo Center for Educational Development Blueplate Central Kitchen (ABCK) system into KNK to produce a faster, more cost efficient, and highly functional delivery system that empowers many people of various demographics, and furthermore encourages the spirit of volunteerism and inclusion in the province. This school-based feeding program rehabilitates 90% of its thousands of beneficiaries each year, through providing them with free lunches for 120 school days.

However, this very quality of being school based is now hampered by community quarantines and distance learning.

Through Community Quarantines and Distance Learning

PLGU-Davao de Oro was not disheartened by the restrictions brought about by the pandemic. In their passion to continue providing the children with the nutrition that they need, the KNK team devised the KNK Mobile Kitchen to bring food directly to children’s homes. The Mobile Kitchen, through the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) and General Community Quarantine (GCQ) in Davao de Oro, catered to a total of 16,087 children in GK villages and NHA resettlements in the province. All while maximizing minimum health standards, the Mobile Kitchen provided happiness and hope to the children during the tragic times of the pandemic through fried chicken and lugaw (porridge).

With the implemented distance learning as part of the new normal, children are now restricted from physically coming to their schools. This unfortunately prevents them from getting their KNK lunches. To address this issue, KNK thought of another strategy to continue feeding the children through distance learning. In the coming month, KNK will be doing milk-feeding instead with a parent-teacher system. In partnership with the Nabunturan Farmers Multipurpose Cooperative (NAFAMCO) who will be supplying the program with locally produced fresh milk, each bottle of milk will be delivered to public schools in the province where parents can easily go to pick up their children’s milk from teachers. The milk feeding will be implemented until the program is prepared enough to resume providing hot meals to the children.

PLGU-Davao de Oro to Intensify KNK

On a recent ZOOM meeting with researchers from Ateneo de Manila University’s CW3 Laboratory and the KNK team, Dr. Eden Miro applauded KNK-Davao de Oro for being the only LGU-led school based feeding program in the country. Being LGU led, KNK-Davao de Oro feeds the children 20-30 more days than school-led feeding programs. Furthermore, KNK-Davao de Oro was also praised for having the highest rehabilitation rate in any school-based feeding program in the Philippines with its 90% rehabilitation rate. During the meeting, Dr. Miro also shared their recommendations for the program which Davao de Oro Governor Jayvee Tyron Uy closely considers to take on for future improvements of both the program and the children’s nutritional statuses.

Using their household vulnerability survey, statistics from their research showed that 4/10 households in Davao de Oro are experiencing severe food insecurity, which calls all the more for the need to intensify KNK. As suggested by Dr. Miro, KNK will now be adjusting the children’s meals according to their age, grade, and gender; and will also be expanding its range of beneficiaries. This would allow the program to bridge each child’s nutritional gaps and sustain further the effects of the program. Moreover, the PLGU also considers extending the program from kindergarten up to Senior High School, wherein it currently caters only to students from kindergarten to Grade 6.

PLGU-Davao de Oro to Focus on GIDAs

The household vulnerability survey and the pandemic’s effects all boil in one common ground—it is the Geographically Isolated and Disadvantaged Areas (GIDAs) that are most affected by current circumstances. In light of this issue, Governor Tyron Uy also shared in the ZOOM meeting that the PLGU will be focusing particularly on GIDAs in the coming year, to ensure that they are not neglected especially during these times.

Related Post