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How Malabon battled undernutrition and stunting with the help of karinderias

In the past, local governments have done feeding programs the conventional way—gathering a group of kids in a gymnasium or center to provide them a hot meal enough to nourish them for a day. If there are generous private organizations or civic-minded citizens, then there are additional treats and giveaways. The cycle is repeated again until funds are depleted. There is also no system to monitor progress of the kids or make the program sustainable and long lasting.

Upon his assumption as mayor of Malabon City in 2012 (succeeding his uncle Tito Oreta who passed away), Antolin “Lenlen” Oreta III saw the burden of the undernutrition challenge and stunting in the city, with almost half of newborns undernourished. Oreta made it his personal advocacy to uplift the lives of Malabonians through proper nutrition, specifically for kids three years old and below.

Oreta, together with his wife Melissa, who is a professional chef, came up with a different kind of feeding program.  Working hand-in-hand with Dr. Alberto Romero (City Health Officer) and the city’s Barangay Nutrition Scholars (BNS), they came up with a win-win strategy for feeding the undernourished children within the city, which also addressed other issues such as when the feeding sites are far from their homes or inaccessibility during floods.

Called the KKC, short for “Karinderia para sa Kalusugan ni Chikiting at Buntis,” this partnership between the Malabon LGU and karinderia owners in the city is now an award-winning and often-copied program to help LGUs eradicate malnutrition in their areas. The KKC was even featured in the Compendium of Local Ordinances on Nutrition published by National Nutrition Council (NNC) and the Department of Health (DOH).

Oreta shows up in one of the KKC feeding events inside a karinderia.

“We are glad and proud to share our city’s best practices in nutrition to help other LGUs. We want them to know how the KKC became an instrument to combat malnutrition here in Malabon and at the same time help the livelihood of our karinderia owners,” said Oreta.

The numbers speak for itself and KKC has been a great step into a healthier Malabon City. In reports, Malabon is now below six percent, which is far from the national stunting average of 28 percent. Aside from this, in a KKC batch that fed 1,000 participants, 65.2 percent were rehabilitated to normal nutritional status.

KKC is proof that when the government and its citizens work together, nothing is impossible. Today and in the future, the City of Malabon will reap the benefits of a healthy and productive citizenry. A healthier kid today is a strong, smart, and spirited Malabonian tomorrow.

KKC in detail
The proponents of the KKC believe that for the program to be successful, the feeding site should be near the homes of the beneficiaries. Thus, the plan integrated the accessibility of the nearby karinderias. By doing so, children and pregnant women are now able to reach feeding sites easily. On top of that, the tastier and varied food available from the karinderia made the experience more meaningful.

Over a 120-day period, the beneficiaries of the feeding program were served hot and delicious meals from the karinderia.

In order to be selected, a karinderia must be operational for at least a year and pass all the other standards of the City Nutrition Office. Karinderia owners are also required to undergo training on Dietary Supplementation and Food Safety. Upon completion and selection, the City grants them a seed capital of P15,000.

From a simple feeding program initiative, KKC has found its way as a priority program of the city. Today, there are over 68 partner karinderias who have successfully fed thousands of women and children beneficiaries.

Nagpapasalamat ako sa KKC dahil lumusog ang aking anak,” says Arlyn Orejuila. Her child has been a part of the program and reaped the health benefits from the KKC initiative. “Alam kong lalaki s’yang malaki at matalino.”

KKC intensifies its focus on the first 1,000 days of life as this is crucial in the health development of humans. The program includes children who are between six to 23 months old, nutritionally at-risk pregnant women and undernourished children between the ages of 24 to 59 months.

In order for the City to reap the full benefits of KKC, there are supporting task forces and programs formed. First of which is the Barangay Nutrition Patrollers (BNPs) who are tasked with identifying children who are in need of nutritional assistance. This is done through Operation Timbang Plus (OPT Plus).

Another is the Buntis-Chikiting Patrollers (BuChikPats) who are in charge of tracking pregnant women and referring them to health centers and KKC. Most of the members of these task forces are women who used to be participants of KKC as well.

“Building a healthy youth sector in Malabon is a key thrust of the city. Malnutrition has been a challenge in Malabon, and one can only fight a grassroots-level problem with a grassroots-driven solution,” said Oreta, who leaves behind a legacy of a successful and effective nutrition program that will see its beneficiaries become healthy, stronger, and smarter for years to come.   — Johannes Chua

Credit belongs to: www.mb.com.ph

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