Globally, amidst efforts to contain COVID-19 through massive lockdowns, an emerging concern on food insecurity decreases people’s chances of fighting this virus.
As of writing, IIRR’s learning community in the municipality of Guinayangan, Quezon Province, Philippines is COVID-19 free but the local government has taken necessary precautions: families are advised to stay home and livelihoods considered non-essential are halted. Families are currently relying on the government’s food aid to sustain their basic needs. The Municipal Social Welfare and Development has provided relief packs to prioritized members of the barangay—the indigent families and ambulant individuals. The package includes rice, noodles, canned sardines, coffee, and sugar.
IIRR is supplementing the government’s efforts through the Community Nutrition Project in the Province by distributing gardening and vegetable food aid to the community. The package includes root crops, legumes, and vegetables, as well as seeds, to encourage households to eat nutritiously while on lockdown to strengthen their immune system. It also contains a flyer about practical home gardening techniques and simple recipes for the vegetables provided, including their nutrition benefits.
IIRR is initially targeting 75 families, however, over 1,200 households in the town have pregnant women and children below two years old. IIRR’s aid can only do so much in helping nutritionally-vulnerable families become food secure during these times. Therefore, IIRR and its local civil society partner, Tanglaw Silangan Parent Association, Inc., are finding ways to raise more home gardening kits to distribute to these families.
The Community Nutrition Project for the First 1000 Days (CNP-F1K) is IIRR’s locally developed project that aims to provide holistic nutrition services during the first 1000 days of children, including pregnant women. A crop museum is being established to supply households with indigenous vegetables; nutrition education sessions are given to the First 1000 Days community members; and implementation from the various municipal departments—nutrition, health, and agriculture—are linked together. The nutrition education sessions are currently deferred in order to observe social distancing and comply with the enhanced community quarantine. Despite the project’s halted field operations, IIRR continues to share essential health and nutrition information to help community members boost their immune system.
CNP-F1K is spearheaded by IIRR in partnership with the Local Government of Guinayangan and Tanglaw Silangan Parents’ Association Inc. (TSPAI, Inc.) through the support of the SUN Pooled Fund.
This article is written by Camille A. Valdemoro. She is the Project Associate for Food and Nutrition of IIRR Philippine Program.