Public and Private Sector Works Together for the Enhancement of Health and Education Status of Children

The impact of food inefficiency falls hardest on children. It shows in the lack of energy seen in school children, their absences, their delayed growth and diminished mental capacity. Eliminating hunger and chronic malnutrition is fundamental to every single development objective, whether it is poverty eradication, education, health, equity or economic growth. However, in order to achieve this, it takes an organizational effort. Cooperation from the community and school authorities as well as the government and the private sector is critical.

One of the projects of NCC where public-private sector are collaborating to address malnutrition and contribute in nation-building is the Pasiglahin ang Estudyanteng Pinoy (PEP) feeding program. The program is spearheaded by the National Competitiveness Council (NCC), Kabisig ng Kalahi, Meadjohnson, and the Department of Education (DepEd) and is in partnership with a private sector partner as the funder. PEP is a supplemental feeding program geared towards improving the nutritional status of students to increase productivity and reduce absenteeism due to undernourishment. The program also aims to improve the retention rate of the students in elementary level to guarantee optimal academic performance. This will serve as a foundation for consistent productivity in the future and ensure competitive human capital.

Companies and organizations such as: Rotary Club of Makati, Ponderosa Leather Goods Co. Inc., CITI Shared Services, Maja Development Corporation, Polymer Products Phils., Inc., Standard Hospitality Group, Pepsi Cola Products Phils., Lotte Foundation, and a plenty more private sector firms and individuals have responded to the call for action.

One PEP cycle lasts for six months. The beneficiaries will be weighed at the start of the feeding program and three months thereafter. They are also given a nutritionally balanced meal and a cup of milk six (6) days a week. After the completion of the feeding, the improvement in their nutritional status will also be determined. Parents are also engaged for them to be educated about health and nutrition so that they could sustain the progress their child has made during the feeding program.

As a result, the performance of the beneficiaries improved, they gained their ideal weight, and their absences were minimized. PEP was seen effective in helping people most especially the vulnerable families. Likewise, it has not only improved the health status of children but it also refocused the perspective of parents in ensuring the well-being of their children.

From 2009 to 2015, there were total of 298 schools and total of 9607 beneficiaries were able to benefit from the PEP program. In terms of substantial weight gain there is a significant improvement averaging 98.56% increase. In addition, beneficiaries were restored from severely wasted to normal nutritional status and the drop-out rate is less than 1%.

The Department of Education saw this as an effective and efficient scheme to reduce malnutrition and increase student productivity in school. With this, DepEd adopted PEP’s framework and was rolled-out nationwide through the Department Order 37, series of 2014 implementing the School-Based feeding program (SBFP) for School Year (SY) 2014-2015. Seeing the same good outcome, it was followed by another Department Order number 33 series of 2015 – implementing SBFP for the upcoming School Year (SY) 2015-2016.

Ms. Wieneke underscored that “Education and Nutrition goes hand in hand, addressing the students’ nutritional needs will help reduce the barriers to effective learning in basic education and it is the best way to improve our human capital.”

For more information on how to sponsor, please contact Ms. Jenny Racca, project officer of the Pasiglahin ang Estudyanteng Pinoy feeding program under Competitive Human Resource Working Group of the National Competitiveness Council at tel. 890.4889 or 751.3404.