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DOST-FNRI eyes evidence-based solutions for food insecurity

Monday, July 16, 2018 11:50 AM    Views : 597by:Angelica Marie O. Paz

Food insecurity is tied with food wastage, according to the study by the Department of Science and Technology-Food and Nutrition Research Institute, and the increasing amount of food wastage is one of the current concerns in the field of nutrition. 

According to Cristina G. Malabad, science research specialist at the DOST-FNRI, the food wastage in the country reaches an average of 1,717 metric tons each day and that the greatest amount of plate waste comes from energy food group.  Moreover, food wastage is also tied with food insecurity.
"There is a relationship between a household's food wastage and food security.  A household without food waste is less likely to be food insecure, same as large families residing in urban areas," Malabad said.     

Mildred O. Guirindola, also from DOST-FNRI,  studied on household food security and diet quality using the household food insecurity access scale to determine if a household's food security affects the diet quality of mothers and children.  Based on the research results, only 2 out of 10 households are food secure, meaning only few of the respondents have access to safe and nutritious food.

"There is an association between food security and the diet quality of mothers. As we can see food security is important because it affects the quality of our diet. That is why weŚresearchers, teachers, and policy makersŚneed to come up with new evidence-based policies and interventions so we can have food security and healthy diet in our country," Guirindola shared.

The studies were presented during the  44th Seminar Series on Food and Nutrition Researches and S&T Activities held on July 4-6, 2018 at the Century Park Hotel Manila. Organized by the DOST-FNRI, the seminar series served as a platform for teachers, nutritionists, policymakers, students, and LGUs to engage and learn more about food and nutrition.

During the open forum, Dr. Corazon V.C. Barba, professor from the Institute of Human Nutrition and Food at UP Los Ba˝os, said that policy recommendations should be made based on the DOST-FNRI researches. She further suggested that more in-depth, comprehensive, and culturally-appropriate studies must be conducted to yield accurate and inclusive results.

Partnerships for food security

Currently, DOST-FNRI is working with government agencies such as the Department of Agriculture in developing a program that limits food wastage from establishments. The Institute is also working with various partners to promote healthy diet among Filipinos such as with Unilever Philippines in the  Pinggang Pinoy  Program, the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction's (IIRR) Integrated School Nutrition Model, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development's (DSWD) School Feeding Program.

IIRR's Integrated School Nutrition Model, which is composed of nutrition education (GarNESupp), supplemental feeding (The Health Meal),  and bio-intensive gardening (The Enhanced Garden), aims to enhance and strengthen nutrition and food security interventions. According to Emilita Monville-Oro, country director of the Philippine Program for IIRR, the program offers a holistic approach to improve the nutrition of students through rehabilitation of school gardens using a simple and chemical-free approach. As well, it also has put in place a 120-day feeding program for students using iron-fortified rice and recipes using the same vegetables harvested from the school gardens.

Meanwhile, Unilever Philippines' partnership with DOST-FNRI in promoting Pinggang Pinoy for Adults through a Cooking Challenge was developed to address the country's increasing malnutrition problem which affects 7.5 million children. Malnutrition has two root causes in the Philippines: lack of knowledge and lack of resources among households, especially mothers.  

"Budget becomes a problem because they (households) end up cooking food which is not nutritious and also expensive because they don't have the education to know better," Kristine Alvarez-Go, marketing director of Unilever Philippines. Recently, Unilever piloted a new model that targets the root causes of food insecurity rather providing a band-aid solution.

"We flipped the old model from simply a feeding program to a nutritional program. It's more of a teaching program today," Go added. Instead of just feeding the families, they also taught the mothers how to cook more affordable and nutritious foods since this is more sustainable than just doing feeding programs in communities. As a result, there was a 46 percent increase in the number of healthy children one year after Pinggang Pinoy partnership was implemented in certain communities.

Further, Fernando R. De Villa, Jr., director of DSWD-National Response and Logistics Management Service (NRLMS) presented the agency's role in conducting feeding programs in schools across the country. The NRLMS is the agency responsible for the production, packaging, repacking, and releasing of donated and procured food and non-food items intended for relief operations. "We provide a more systematic way of doing the family food pack production system," said De Villa.

Engaging participants through interactive learning

Aside from the technical sessions about R&D programs on policy, interventions, and presentation of studies, the forum also featured interactive sessions. These sessions aimed to engage the participants even more and help them apply the knowledge they have gained throughout the event. 

"Localizing Pinggang Pinoy" taught participants on the basic principles and application of Pinggang Pinoy in meal planning. Through a Family Feud type of game, the participants had fun while using their learnings on proper food planning and its importance in supplying nutrients to our body.

Another activity titled "Integrating ICT in Food and Nutrition Technology" promoted the iFNRI website's features and services. The participants were able to know more about the site through an online quiz where the top scorers won prizes.

The iFNRI is a web-based service that provides food and nutrition information. According to DOST-FNRI, the website harmonizes different information and communication technology (ICT) projects of the Institute. Through iFNRI they are able to integrate ICT in food and nutrition as a means to accelerate the delivery of programs and services to their audience.

The DOST-FNRI will be conducting a nutrition and diet counseling under the STI @Home cluster during the 2018 National Science and Technology Week. This year's NSTW is bannered with the theme "Science for the People: Innovation for Collective Prosperity", which will be held on July 17-21, 2018 at the World Trade Center, Pasay City. Through the NSTW, the contributions of S&T to different sectors such as education, health, agriculture, and infrastructure will be showcased to the public. For more information on NSTW, please visit nstw.dost.gov.ph or like the Facebook page 2018 National Science and Technology Week.(By Angelica Marie O. Paz, DOST-STII)

S & T Trivia

" Two Filipino inventors scored a pair of gold medals in the International Invention, Innovation, Industrial Design and Technology Exhibition (ITEX 2000) held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in September 2000. Engr. Cornelio Se├▒o of Los Banos, Laguna and Rolando dela Cruz garnered golds for their inventions called, respectively, "Pressure Fluid Machine" and "Topical Formulation in Removing Warts, Moles and the Like Using Cashew Nuts (Annacardium occidentale)." Dela Cruz spent 25 years of research for his winning cashew nut preparation known as Dewart and Demole. Seno has four US and four Philippine patents under his name. "

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