#2030NOW: Curbing hunger and restoring children's dignity
MANILA, Philippines – In a country where malnutrition is a serious problem, everyone's help is needed.
There is an estimated number of 7 million malnourished Filipinos, with around 95 children dying every day due to malnutrition.
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations include achieving zero hunger, minimizing stunting by 40%, and reducing childhood wasting to less than 5%. The Philippines along with 167 other countries committed to achieving these goals. (READ: Can P16 a day save PH kids from malnutrition?)
Collective action to reduce this is what the group United for Healthier Kids PH (U4HK) is envisioning. Created by Nestlé in 2014, U4HK is a coalition of 8 nongovernmental organizations that aim to help parents of school-age children (4 to 12 years old) to "raise a healthier generation."
The broad alliance seeks to combat the perennial problem by solving 4 key aspects: providing access to food, nutrition education, nutrition and disaster, and water sanitation and hygiene.
"Our goal is simple. We want to give every Filipino multiple opportunities with an organization working on nutrition-related projects and get you to adapt and invest in their communities," said Eunice Braga of Ogilvy & Mather Philippines during Rappler's Social Good Summit (SGS) on Saturday, September 16.
"[We] are tapping into another key facet of our culture, which is bayanihan. If you think about it, our relationship with food is similar with bayanihan. It's a way for us to share ourselves, to connect people, to build communities," she added.
Their activities include teaching parents to prepare budget meals adherent to the standards of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, educating parents about nutrition, and helping raise funds for the activities of the NGOs. She mentioned that several families and groups, including K-pop fans and motorbike riders, have pledged in support for their activities.
The issue on hunger and malnutrition, Braga said, comes as an irony in the vibrant food industry in the Philippines. She emphasized that it is important to address this issue to maximize the potential of the Filipino youth, which will be the future drivers of the country.
She then urged SGS participants to do their own part, even in the simplest ways of helping them disseminate information about malnutrition, especially via social media.
They were also called to make volunteer and participating in the activities as part of their lives such as marking a milestone – birthday, work promotion, graduation – by taking action against hunger.
"When you volunteer for an NGO, when you donate a meal to a child, when you invest in water facilties for school, when you bring together a family to launch a feeding program, you're not just giving a child food and water. You are extending compassion, you are reaffiriming someone’s dignity," she said.
"You are reminding them that in a world where so many people spend so much of their time scrolling and tapping and typing, there's someone that has looked up and that they are heard they are seen and they do reserve a full plate of good food and a full glass of drinking water," she added. (READ: Why you should care about stunting) – Rappler.com