Editorial: Fighting hunger

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Sunday, July 27, 2014


HUNGER stalks and marks the young in more ways than one.

Insufficiency or inadequacy of nutrients in the diet of children arrests their growth and impairs their future chances of self-actualization.

It is not only the deprivation of proper nutrition or excesses in wrong food choices that warp children’s chances of fully realizing their potentials.

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When children aged 0 to 3 years do not discover storytelling in readaloud moments with their parents, their acquisition of vocabulary, articulation of self and other communication skills are compromised for life.

Combatting the hidden and varied sources of hunger deserves the vigilance and dedication of parents, schools, local governments and other stakeholders.

Mindset for health

For the past 10 years, malnutrition among preschool children in Central Visayas has steadily decreased, from as high as 13.77 percent in 2004 to as low as 5.54 percent in 2013.

Last July 23, Sun.Star Cebu’s Linette R. Cantalejo reported that a regional official of the National Nutrition Council (NNC) encouraged efforts to sustain these gains.

First, homeowners, local government units and government agencies should continue converting unused urban space into backyard or school gardens. The gardens can be cheap and sustainable sources of home- or school-grown fruits and vegetables.

The same Sun.Star Cebu report cited changes in the Filipino diet that lead to malnutrition. Junk food, fast food and street food create havoc on nutrition and well-being. The current craving for these comfort foods can be traced to their convenience, accessible pricing and “masa (popular)” flavors.

At the heart of eating habits that cause malnutrition are food biases. “Tuslob-buwa,” a street delicacy of deep-fried pig brains and “puso (hanging rice)” may be cheaper and more filling than fruits and tastier than vegetables; yet, diets high in fat are linked to heart disease, diabetes and many forms of cancer, such as breast and prostate.

The foresight and planning underlying the planting of vegetables is a shift in mindset from the preference to buy readily available but nutritiously deficient fast food.

This consciousness for health and wellness may be further nurtured in classes through lessons in urban gardening and organic farming.

Reading for life

The latest informal reading indexes (IRI) alerted teachers of the Poo Elementary School (PES) in Barangay San Vicente, Lapu-Lapu City that their students have poor reading habits.

Fortunately, for PES students, it wasn’t only their teachers but also the private sector that made the students’ setback their concern.

According to a “Neighborhood” report in Sun.Star Cebu’s July 23 issue, the Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. and the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) turned over a P .6-million librarythat will be open to PES as well as all Olango residents, including the students of Olango Island’s 15 schools.

Supporting literacy is not only carried out by donating a public library. The Zonta Club of Cebu II gave a bag of seven books each to 75 parentsof preschoolers of Guadalupe Elementary School. After reading the books aloud to their children, the parents will circulate the other bags of books among themselves until all participating families have read the books.

The organization recently launched the “Alimbukad: Basa Pamilya” program to boost early reading, family bonding through reading, and nurturing proper values, reported July 26 report of Sun.Star Cebu intern Nheru Veraflor of the University of San Jose-Recoletos last July 26.

Other members of civil society should take their cue from the Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., PBSP and Zonta Club of Cebu II. With their resources, the private sector is needed to boost the country’s 10-point basic education agenda and the Department of Education’s Every Child a Reader program.

What threatens the country’s future are generations of non-readers who cannot critically decide on and participate in matters of governance. In this light, preschool literacy is critical. The first three years of a child’s life significantly promote vocabulary, learning and communication, which hardwire the prospects of people, communities, and a nation.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 28, 2014.

Opinion

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