Hungry for change: Mothers against malnutrition

Nikki Natividad
Hungry for change: Mothers against malnutrition
What do you know about malnutrition? Hunger isn’t a question of quantity

MANILA, Philippines — It’s simple, malnutrition is the offspring of poverty. Those who can’t afford nutritious food, have little to no access to it. But where poverty is the father of malnutrition, the mother is a more unlikely predator: The lack of education.

According to the 2015 Global Nutrition Report, malnutrition affects 1 in 3 people around the world. In the Philippines, that translates to 5M malnourished children aged 10-years old and below, according to a currently unpublished nutritional report by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI).

Malnutrition manifests itself in different ways, not just in the way it’s typically imagined. There’s stunting, wherein people are too short for their age; wasting, wherein people are too thin for their height, and obesity.

Yes, obesity is also a form of malnutrition when your diet still doesn’t consist of the right kinds of food. The stomach is full but the body is famished (READ: What a ‘Pinggang Pinoy’ should look like).

Education, or rather, the lack thereof, is a factor because it’s not just a matter of quantity – it’s quality. “There are parents who give their infants soft drinks, coffee, or unsanitary water. This can be the starting point of problems like diarrhea and malnutrition,” says Leah Perlas, Research Specialist of the FNRI.

This means that even if lower income families find the means to afford an acceptable diet, they don’t always do so. Plus, supplementary feeding programs don’t always have nutritional objectives. Fortunately, this is the perfect opening for change; and change is a mother.

Hungry for change

“Studies show that low-educated mothers are the most affected by malnutrition,” says Ms. Lilibeth Dasco, Senior Research Specialist of FNRI, during an interview with Joy Ramos-Buenviaje, a Health and Nutrition Manager. “When the target [in battling nutrition] is only the children, there is hardly a statistical difference that is made. That is why the new target should be made to be mothers and women of reproductive age.”

It has been the mission of brands like Knorr to battle malnutrition by providing meals that are not only delicious, but also accessible to underprivileged children. In the past 13 years, Knorr has done a number of specialized feeding programs that have managed to aid 600K malnourished children. Last October 17th on the World Food Day Fair at Mercato Centrale, Knorr launched the Lutong Nanay Nutrition Program, an initiative that targets mothers as the key in battling malnutrition. All the proceeds from the meals sold were given to Knorr’s partners in the feeding program. This includes Kabisig ng Kalahi and the World Food Programme (WFP).

The Lutong Nanay Nutrition Program is a holistic approach to addressing malnutrition by educating mothers on the basics of nutrition and offering them a sustainable livelihood.

Their programs will be conducted in both community and school-based settings. Mothers will be taught how to make simple, low-cost recipes that are both delicious and nutritious. Furthermore, in order to empower mothers to continue caring for their children’s development, selected moms are given business opportunities through a livelihood development plan so that they can earn income while continuing to provide nutritious meals for their children.  

To learn more about the relevance of education and mothers against malnutrition, take a look at this infographic. — 

The Knorr Lutong Nanay Nutrition Program believes that moms can help fight malnutrition. And it starts with one mom-cooked meal at a time. To learn more, visit


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