Robredo proposes new ways to solve hunger, poverty

VICE President Leni Robredo called Wednesday on government, non-government organizations, and communities to join hands in finding solutions to the problem on malnutrition and hunger.

In her speech at the joint convention of nutritionists and dietitians held at the Century Hotel in Manila, Robredo cited the case of Brazil, which implemented a zero hunger program that was so successful that the country had been erased from the World Hunger Map.

Robredo added that in Brazil, they have a universal school feeding program and every private and public school is required to have their own kitchen nutritionist and dietitian.

"Iyong menu sa schools for the next month are uniform. Uniform sa lahat ng schools and bawal iyong mga bata na magdala ng baon sa school," she said.

Robredo who went to Brazil recently revealed that the government there also provide three meals a day -- morning snack, lunch, and an afternoon snack.

The poorer communities, Robredo said, have community restaurants serving affordable food that cost them only P1 per meal.

"The community restaurant is run by nutritionists and dietitians and heavily subsidized by the government. Meals are sold for P1. The restaurant we went to said that they average about 200 people per lunch," she said.

After one year of the program, Brazil achieved their zero hunger objective.

Robredo believed the same can be done in the country.

"Parati ko ng pinapanaginipan na mangyayari din iyon dito sa atin. And in fact, we started a pilot program in my district in Camarines Sur, in the third district of Camarines Sur patterned after that," she said.

The Memorandum of Agreement with the Community Restaurant and the government of Brazil requires the restaurant operator to source a minimum of 30 percent to be bought from very small farmers.

It is their belief that hunger cannot be solved without also addressing the problem of poverty.

"And the program has been very successful because after 10 years, nawala ang Brazil sa hunger map. Kaya sabi ko sana magawa din natin iyon. It is really doable in the Philippines," Robredo said.

First 1000 days program

Aside from the good nutrition and zero hunger program, another advocacy of Robredo in her first 1000 days program is good care and medical attention for children in particular starting from the time of pregnancy of each mother.

According to Robredo, this program should be given special attention by the government and must be placed in the list of priorities of the present administration.

The First 1000 Days childcare program, Robredo said, can save the country a lot of money in later life potential public health expenditures.

A mother herself with three daughter, Robredo said that by giving our people a healthy beginning, this will ensure later life productivity and break the inter-generational cycle of poverty.

The vice president also cited studies which says that these programs has been proven to be very successful and it can even raise gross domestic product by as much as 12 percent.

"But more importantly, it also saves people's lives, provides dignity and reduces inequality," she said.

She said that the child that you see who is in dire need for food and sustenance could be the next Steve Jobs, Lea Salonga, or Barack Obama.

Robredo added that malnutrition can never be truly resolved by a feeding program alone.

The answer, according to Robredo, comes in four interconnected parts.
Food security, support for agriculture, a national feeding program, sustainable livelihood, and an innovation in the government procurement program.

Ensuring food security, boosting agriculture and fighting against hunger can be complimentary efforts, she said.

Robredo said this is a challenge that our government should tackle and urges government to take the lead in partnering with the private sector and civil society sectors and in finding new ways to solve the age-old problems of hunger, malnutrition, and poverty. (Sunnex)

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