Christian Valdez, a six-year-old son of carpenter Hilario Valdez and wife Jennifer from Barangay Gen. T. de Leon, Valenzuela City, was considered underweight for his age.
After undergoing a 90-day supplemental feeding program organized by Odyssey Foundation Inc., the corporate social responsibility arm of food manufacturing firm CDO-Foodsphere Inc., Christian gained 3.1 kilograms.
Christian is among the 19,000 children beneficiaries of OFI’s Nutrition Program dubbed as Gabay Nutrisyon. Gabay Nutrisyon is a nationwide campaign of OFI designed to eliminate hunger among children two to six years old.
The campaign has reached out to children in underprivileged parts of Metro Manila and far-flung communities such as Sta. Ana, Cagayan; Malilipot, Albay; Presentacion, Camarines Sur; Benguet and Leyte. It has basically provided intervention to the serious problem of malnutrition in the country.
Data from the Food and Nutrition Research Institute show that chronic malnutrition rate among Filipino children aged 0 to 2 was at 26.2 percent in 2015, the highest in 10 years.
According to studies, the first 1,000 days are a crucial period when the child must receive optimum nutrition. If not achieved, the effects of malnutrition will be irreversible.
Aware of the problem, OFI’s core advocacy is hunger mitigation to save children from undernutrition. “Hence, we are actively implementing Gabay Nutrisyon supplemental feeding program to provide nourishment to children and enable them to reach their fullest potential,” said OFI executive director Dindo Danao.
OFI conducts nutrition advocacy interventions in the form of a 90-day supplemental feeding program when nutritious food and medicine are given to children. At the end of the feeding program, the children are expected to have reached their normal nutritional status and their families have gained better understanding of health and nutrition practices that will equip them to sustain a healthy lifestyle.
OFI data show that as of Feb. 28, 2018, total beneficiaries of the Gabay Nutrisyon program reached 19, 044 kids.
“Urgent interventions are needed to reverse the health condition of underweight Filipino children. We believe that a directly administered and closely monitored feeding program brings the needed results,” said Jerome Ong, president of Odyssey Foundation and CDO-Foodsphere.
“We envision seeing healthy and well-nourished children in our communities. The supplemental feeding program is our maiden way of sharing our resources by giving children a chance for a healthier and better life,” Ong said.
OFI was established on May 11, 2004 with a mandate to develop programs concerning children nourishment, childcare and education, livelihood enhancement and health and nutritional advocacy, and to generate funds via solicitations and fund raising activities to support its programs.
It is guided by the general framework of social development, firmly anchored on the principle of giving something back to the community.
In 2005, OFI first conducted Gabay Nutrisyon, a community-based supplemental feeding program focusing on addressing child hunger and malnutrition in chosen communities. By providing nutritious food and vitamins, OFI aims to restore to normal health status underweight children enrolled in the program. This started on June 14, 2005 with children of Barangay Paso de Blas, Valenzuela City as the initial beneficiaries, Paso de Blas being home to OFI’s mother company, CDO Foodsphere.
OFI expanded the program and launched the NEELS advocacy campaign. NEELS stands for Nutrition, Education, Environment, Livelihood and Service to Humanity.