Ingenuity is one characteristic that would describe Filipinos, even amid COVID 19 pandemic.

When President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed Proclamation Order No. 22, “Declaring a State of Public Health Emergency throughout the Philippines”,  all local government units (LGUs) strategically devised schemes to protect their respective constituents not just from contracting the COVID 19 infection but from food insecurity as well.

From the standard family food packs consisting of rice, coffee, canned goods and noodles, a number of LGUs added variety to the “food basket” such as the inclusion of fruits and vegetables, live chicken, eggs, hot meals and even vegetable seeds to encourage food production while on enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).  Indeed, in the midst of crisis, Filipinos never ran out of ideas.

In this article, the National Nutrition Council Region III will share some of the unique practices of selected LGUs in Central Luzon that are noteworthy of praise and perhaps can also be replicated in other areas.

Mabalacat City. In response to the Nutrition Cluster Guidelines on LGUs Nutrition Actions Relative to COVID 19 issued by the National Nutrition Cluster on 23 March 2020, introduced MCG’s NUTRIPACK which consisted of vegetables, fruits, eggs, bread, iodized salt and multivitamins for children and nutritionally-at-risk pregnant women, teenage pregnant and indigents. MCG stands for Mabalacat City Government. The MCG’s NUTRIPACK is a relief pack which serves as an alternative project to dietary supplementation programs for malnourished and pregnant women.

The city is the youngest component city of the Province of Pampanga and was recognized as the 2019 Consistent Regional Outstanding Winner in Nutrition (CROWN) First Year Maintenance Awardee.

City of San Fernando, alongside with the distribution of relief packs to residents, launched the “Talipapa on Wheels” as part of its livelihood assistance program. This is to ensure that informal sector can still earn and not completely suffer from the economic crisis brought about by COVID 19.

Meycauayan City, since it started its community garden contest last year, the city, through the initiative of the City Nutrition and Population Office continuously distributes vegetable seeds to each household along side with the family food packs. This is to encourage every household to have their own home gardens.

Gapan City. In addition to rice, the city government also served dishes and distributed vegetables, which were bought from the local farmers. Live chickens were also distributed to each household as part of the food pack.

Dinalupihan, Bataan is not just content in giving out dry goods but organized community kitchens in school to distribute hot meals to indigent families. Some of the menus and recipes used for the feeding activity were taken from the menu guide calendar of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology, which were modified based on available food commodities in the municipality.

Talavera, Nueva Ecija continuously distributes nutribun to all households as part of its food assistance program and initially included pugo eggs, kalabasa and kamatis in the food packs distributed to priority households. The municipality committed to identify and provide fresh food items in the coming days while on ECQ.  Mayor Nerivi Santos-Martinez said that the inclusion of vegetables in the food packs will ensure balanced nutrition among her constituents and will also help local farmers to cope up with the economic crisis. The municipality is also a recipient of the 2019 CROWN First Year Maintenance Award.

Nueva Ecija government bought palays from the farmers which are then converted to rice and were distributed, together with canned goods to priority families. The purchase of rice is part of the Food Council of the provincial government, which also include the provision of small animals to indigents. Nueva Ecija is the rice granary and vegetable capital of the region.

Pampanga. At day 1 of the ECQ, Governor Dennis Pineda and Chair of the Provincial Nutrition Committee gathered all business sector and food producers in the province to discuss strategies on ensuring food security among Kapampangans. The provincial government released Php80 million for the #SAUPBALEN Rice Assistance Program for residents who have been extremely affected by the ECQ. Pampanga is the cuisine capital of the region, where best and delectable foods are served that satisfy the palate.

These are just few of the LGUs who creatively design their food security program during these extraordinary times to ensure that healthy and nutritious meals are served in every family table.

Information above was sourced from the LGUs’ Facebook page, newsfeeds from the Provincial Information Office, local news and data from 4Ws of the Information Management collected by NNC-Region III. (ambr)