Private organizations are teaming up to help solve undernourishment among children in the Philippines. A World Bank report pointed out that undernutrition has long been a serious problem in the country. The report bared that one in three Filipino children under five are small in size for their age.
To help the country fight this chronic problem, PLDT wireless unit Smart Communications together with the Coca-Cola Foundation is supporting a community-based supplemental feeding initiative of the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) that benefits more than 120 underweight children three to seven years old from Barangay Sitio Pintor, Rodriguez (Montalban), Rizal. The community is situated near a landfill where most families make a living by sifting through garbage.
The program started in September and will continue until March 2022. Smart is providing two kilograms of rice per week for eight weeks to around 100 families sourced from its own ‘Buy Local’ program that benefits small-holder farmers in Luzon. Working with local health workers, children-beneficiaries will be monitored throughout the period. This is Smart’s first private sector collaboration addressing malnutrition and stunting.
“Championing our core value of ‘malasakit’ or compassion and in support of World Food Day this October, Smart seeks to uplift the lives of Filipinos through initiatives that ensure food security and improve nutrition. With reduced economic activities, those living in depressed areas have been struggling even harder to provide for their families,” said Stephanie Orlino, Smart Assistant Vice President and Head of Community Relations.
With money barely enough for food, Sitio Pintor residents Shiela Mae Eva and Ronabel Santo Domingo welcome the generosity of the PBSP, the largest business-led non-government organization (NGO) that creates sustainable solutions to alleviate social problems at their core.
Eva is grateful that her two toddlers are part of the program, especially that she’s also taking care for her youngest child who was born last year.
“My husband earns less than P400 a day. We don’t have enough money to buy milk,” the 29-year-old mother of three lamented.
Santo Domingo says that the feeding program has allowed for some wiggle room in the family budget.
“My husband is the sole provider of our family. Because of the program, I can buy other basic needs,” the 31-year-old mother of five explained.
The support to this program emphasizes PLDT and Smart’s commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG #2: Zero Hunger, and SDG #3: Good Health and Well-Being.