METROBANK Foundation, Inc., (MBFI) and Pilipinas Shell Foundation, Inc. (PSFI) signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) on November 6, 2023 in Makati City for the implementation of a three-year, community-based, and multi-sectoral program to address undernutrition in economically disadvantaged communities in Camarines Sur.
Dubbed Roots to Shoots, the P7.2-million program funded by MBFI will provide a holistic and integrated approach, and target at least 245 parents and caregivers, children under five years old, and public sector individuals from Barangay Santa Rosa del Sur, the second barangay with the highest incidence of malnutrition in Pasacao, Camarines Sur.
Roots to Shoots will focus on three key areas. The Food Security and Livelihood component, which will be led by PSFI, will help improve food availability and food access in the community by providing agricultural resources and technical knowledge on sustainable livelihood. The Water Access, Sanitation, and Hygiene component, which will be overseen by the Manila Water Foundation, will improve the access to basic water and sanitation facilities to communities that will enable them to practice proper hygiene and sanitation. The Mother and Child Care component will focus on strengthening the capacity of mothers and caregivers as well as health and nutrition workers to provide adequate nutrition and holistic care to their children through nutrition education sessions and early childhood care and development. This will be co-implemented by World Vision Development Foundation, Inc.
The Roots to Shoots expansion will involve Gender Equality, Disability, and Social Inclusion in its implementation, ensuring all members of the communities have equal access to the program’s benefits, regardless of their gender, disability, or social status.
The program is aligned with the national agenda on health and nutrition, specifically RA 11148: “Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Magnanay Act”, Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN) 2023-2028, and RA 8980: “Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) Act”, and will forge strong collaboration with government agencies such as the Department of Health, National Nutrition Council, Department of Science and Technology-Food and Nutrition Research Institute, and the Local Government Unit of Pasacao, Camarines Sur.
“We are excited about this partnership because this signifies an important shift in the grant-making program that we do in the foundation and that’s really looking at how to support more integrated, more multi-sectoral, and more holistic programs that will address the different facets of the problems that we are trying to address," said MBFI executive vice president
Philip Francisco Dy. “We really want to see to the extent that we can help and to the extent that we can participate and make sure it becomes successful as we expand into Barangay Santa Rosa del Sur in Pasacao, Camarines Sur for this partnership project.”
The Roots to Shoots program was initially PSFI’s three-year program implemented from 2019 to 2022 in eight barangays in Bombon and five barangays in Pasacao, Camarines Sur.
Its pilot intervention was successful in improving the nutritional and food security status of the families and children in these communities. Since the start of the intervention, PSFI reported a 10.57% reduction in stunting, 5.39% decrease in wasting, and a 6.91% decline in the number of underweight children. in Pasacao. In Bombon, on the other hand, incidences of stunting were also reduced by 7.45%, wasting by 2.46%, and decreased the number of underweight children by 4.32%.
“We can’t do this alone. It has to be all of government, all of nation approach and so we’re very proud to be able to show a model that actually works. We’re very proud to see it recognized by partners who are now willing to assist,” said PSFI executive director Sebastian Quiniones, Jr. “As our partnership goes forward, with the grace of God, we hope that we can make this little bit of a dent within our country which can then expand to the whole of the country so that we can then achieve the benefits of the demographic bubble that the Philippines is in now.”
With the launch of the expanded Roots to Shoots, MBFI and PSFI are committed to continuing the fight against undernutrition and food insecurity in the Philippines by supporting the national mandate and global targets through the UN Sustainable Development Goals. PR