Stronger Kids for a Stronger Republic

Stronger Kids for a Stronger Republic
Posted July 17, 2017
Republic Cement launches campaign against child hunger and malnutrition
 
TAYSAN, BATANGAS – Over a thousand students from four different barangays in Batangas will benefit from free nutritious lunch meals every day for one school year, as part of a campaign against hunger and malnutrition by Republic Cement in partnership with Gawad Kalinga.

Republic Cement’s Kusina ng Kalinga is the first fully-equipped kitchen to be set up in Batangas. The kitchen will produce daily nutritious lunch meals for students from levels Kinder to Grade 3 in four sponsored Batangas elementary schools.  Beneficiary schools include Taysan Central School, Mapulo Elementary School, Bilogo Elementary School, and Pag-asa Elementary School.

“We partnered with GK because we saw the model of the Kusina as a sustainable solution to an age-old problem, with scalable results in terms of health improvement by end of the school year. Our mission at Republic Cement has always been to strengthen and empower communities. Complemented with GK’s vision of addressing hunger among the young, we see this program as a step towards strengthening the future movers and shakers of the community,” says PV Aquino, Republic’s Director of Public Affairs & Communications.

 The kitchen will produce a wide menu of nutritious food selections to ensure that students can enjoy different lunch meals per day. The food served is aligned with the prescribed daily dietary requirements set by the Food Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) for the identified age group.

Launched in July to coincide with Nutrition Month, the campaign seeks to address the common effects of severe hunger and malnutrition in Filipino children. Under the program, equal importance is placed on caring for children who are ‘moderately malnourished’ or ‘stunted’ under the range of child growth standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

WHO findings revealed that “children with moderate malnutrition have an increased risk of mortality and that most nutrition-related deaths among children are highly associated with moderate malnutrition.”

“The root cause of malnutrition is that it is not approached proactively and sustainably. Conventional wisdom tells us that severe malnutrition must be a public health priority and while we completely agree, we want to give equal importance to early prevention for children who might be at risk and even children who are currently healthy,” says Jose Luis Oquinena, Gawad Kalinga’s Executive Director.

“The decision to implement universal feeding stems from our desire to arrest and even reduce instances of malnutrition in the beneficiary-schools. We do not want to wait for kids to reach the critical point and be categorized as ‘malnourished’ before we address their (nutritional) needs,” says Aquino.

The Batangas Kusina has tapped mothers of student beneficiaries to help in all activities in the kitchen from sanitary food preparation to distribution. GK and Republic Cement have also been conducting routine parent-teacher orientations and is set to mount workshops for parents to teach them basic, cost-efficient, and healthy food preparation for their children.

“In our experience with Kusina ng Kalinga, a common realization among volunteer parents is that nutritious and hearty meals need not be expensive or difficult to prepare. We’re hoping to achieve that same behavior and mindset change here (in Batangas) because sound health practices really start at home,” says Kalayaan Sta. Barbara, KnK Operations Head for South Luzon.

“We believe nourishment is essential to progress. Providing our young with physical nourishment ultimately means nourishing their dreams. Our youth, after all, is the foundation of our country and stronger kids make for a stronger Republic,” explains Republic’s Corporate Communications Manager Vida Rodriguez.

With four Batangas schools part of Republic’s Kusina’s initial phase, the Company looks to expand the program to more schools in the short-term. 

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