After a 2-year hiatus, Valenzuela City as a trailblazer in Education continued its Enhanced Citywide K to 6 Feeding Program with an improved approach. The relaunch was led by Mayor WES Gatchalian in partnership with Ateneo Center for Educational Development (ACED) at Apolonia F. Rafael Elementary School (AFRES), Barangay Mapulang Lupa, March 14.
The citywide feeding program is another component of the city’s award-winning Education 360 Degrees Investment Program. First launched in 2012, the program has now catered to 67,716 beneficiaries. In partnership with the Ateneo Center for Education Development (ACED), the project aims to address and eradicate malnutrition among children from kindergarten to grade six and to eventually improve the school performance of these student beneficiaries.
Now, the big challenge lies on the hands of parents and guardians, as Valenzuela City Health Officer Dr. Marthony Basco said, “Dito po sa feeding program, pakakainin po ang inyong mga anak dito sa loob ng eskwela. Kaya lamang po, kailangang ipagpatuloy ng ating mga magulang, nanay at tatay, ate at kuya, lolo at lola, sa bahay.” [For the feeding program, we will provide meals to your children here at school. However, you will be the one to help us continue this program at your respective homes.]
Dr. Basco also reminded the parents and teachers to consult the nutritionists working in the barangay health stations and schools about the best meals to provide their children daily and the importance of food portioning and meal frequency for the children’s growth and development.
Before the pandemic, numbers for wasted and severely wasted went down and the grades of student beneficiaries improved. Unfortunately, following the pandemic, 4,684 students—or 6% of the K–6 population—were identified as wasted and severely wasted based on their initial weigh-in during the enrollment process for the current school year. To address this, Mayor WES Gatchalian continued and enhanced the citywide feeding program. He said, “Hanggat makakaya ng Lungsod ng Valenzuela, hanggat may pondo, tuloy nating hahanapin ang mga estudyante nating nangangailangan ng tulong. Iyong mga hindi nakakakain ng tatlong beses sa isang araw at kulang pa ang nutrisyon na ibinibigay sa loob ng kanilang tahanan.” [As long as we can, as a city, as long as we have the fund, we will continue to reach the students who need our help. Those who can’t get to eat their proper and adequate meals three times a day at home.]
The feeding cycle will run for 70 days. One of the enhancements of the program is the distribution of milk every Friday to supplement the feeding program and ensure that the beneficiaries get the nutrition they need even during weekends. Health cards and vitamins were also provided to monitor and improve the child’s health and weight for 70 days. There was also a medical van on stand-by for the feeding beneficiaries’ medical check-up.
Vice Mayor Lorie Natividad-Borja nudged everyone that there are a lot of affordable foods in the market that are nutritious. She also thanked the City Mayor for not just maintaining the project but also for providing the enhancements of the program, “’Yung sangkap mula sa ating Central Kitchen ay pinag-aralan lahat, sinisigurado nating malinis, at higit sa lahat, masustansya.” [The ingredients from our Central Kitchen were clean, carefully prepared, and most importantly, nutritious.]
The City’s Central Kitchen will supply the hot meals prepared and cooked by the kitchen volunteers.
The feeding program is a multi-sectoral effort of the local government, Division of City Schools Valenzuela, but on other key players, as well, namely: the school principals, feeding coordinators, drivers of the 43 public elementary schools, food suppliers, parents and kitchen volunteers who contribute an important part on its implementation.
Also gracing the event were Mapulang Lupa Punong Barangay Atoy Natividad, Councilors Niña Lopez, Chiqui Carreon, and Gerald Galang, AFRES Principal Ma’am Gloria D. Morenos, Schools Division Superintendent Dr. Meliton Zurbano, ACED Project Officer Mr. Joel Luanzon, and Valenzuela City Nutritionist Ms. Gloreda Virata.41