deped order 13TACLOBAN CITY -- School influence on children is elemental to personal development, the reason the Regional Technical Working Group (RTWG) on nutrition in Region 8 passed a resolution endorsing the Department of Education's (DepED) "Policy and Guidelines on Healthy Food and Beverage Choices in Schools and in DepEd Offices" to the Regional Nutrition Council (RNC), for adoption and support among regional stakeholders.
James Paa, DepEd Region 8, presented the education department's policy order on food and beverages choices (No. 13, s. 2017) during the RTWG 2nd Quarter Meeting held at Population Commission (Popcom) conference room  on June 16, 2017. On discussion was the 43d Nutrition Month celebration activities for July--which bannered the theme:"Healthy diet, gawin habit -- FOR LIFE!" The working-group out rightly recognized a feasible move in influencing the eating-habits to healthy choices for a big chunk of society, the school children--at least.

The new DepEd order aims to promote and develop healthy eating habits among the youth and its employees by setting up food standards, and making them available at schools and DepEd offices, while banning the unhealthy others. It also provides the guide in the selling and marketing of foods and beverages in the subject places, including the purchasing of foods for school feeding program.

The current order revised some provisions of Order No. 8, s. 2007 entitled Revised Implementing Guidelines on the Operational Management of School Canteens in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools, particularly Policy Statements Nos. 4.4, 4.5, and 4.6.

The new policy order categorizes food and beverages according to their Nutrition Facts, and color-coded all into the three colors of Traffic Light, which actually is what is intended should be followed--on which GREEN means Go, YELLOW means Caution, and RED means Stop! Or don't!

The GREEN category includes foods and drinks that should always be available in the canteens, those which contain wide range of nutrients and generally low in saturated and trans fat, sugar, and salt. Described as:  containing wide range of nutrients; saturated fat is less than 3 grams (more than half a spoon) per serving; no trans fat; sugar is less than 10 grams (2 teaspoons) per serving; sodium is less than 120 mg (1/20 teaspoons salt) per serving.

Examples of drinks are: milk (unsweetened), safe and clean water (nothing added), and fresh Buko water (unsweetened). For energy-giving: milled rice, brown rice, oatmeal, wheat bread, cassava, kamote, saging, corn, boiled peanuts, suman, and puto. For body-building (grow): fishes, shellfish, small shrimps, lean meats, chicken without skin, nuts, eggs. And for body-regulating (glow): fresh fruits preferably those in season.

The YELLOW category includes foods and drinks that should be served carefully, maybe once or twice a week and in small servings, and should not be prominent in the menu. They are food and drinks containing: saturated fat more than 3 to 5 grams (more than half a teaspoon to 1 teaspoon) per serving; no trans fat; sugar is more than 10 grams but less than 20 grams (2 to 4 teaspoon) per serving; and sodium is more than 120 mg to 200 mg (1/20 to 1/10 teaspoon salt) per serving.

Example of drinks: 100% fresh fruit juices. Energy-giving (go): fried rice, bread (white refined flour), biscuits, banana cue and camote cue, turon, pancakes, waffles, champorado, pancit, arroz caldo, sandwiches, butter, margarine, mayonnaise. Body-building (grow): processed food--meats/fish, hotdogs, sausage, burger etc. Body-regulating (glow): stir fried vegetables.

The RED category includes food and drinks not recommended in the canteen menu, or should not be made available in schools and DepEd offices canteens. These foods and drinks contain: saturated fat more than 5 grams (more than 1 teaspoon)  per serving; trans fat no matter the amount; sugar or carbohydrates more than 20 grams (more than 4 teaspoons) per serving.

Examples of drinks: soft drinks, alcoholic drinks, sports water, flavoured mineral water, energy drinks, sweetened waters, powdered juice drinks, products containing caffeine (no for school canteens), processed fruit/vegetable juices with added sugar of more than 20 grams (4 teaspoons) per serving. Energy-giving: jellies, ice crushes, slushies, ice creams, ice drops, ice candies, cakes, donuts, sweet biscuits and pastries, sweet bakery products, candies, French fries, instant noodles, and heavily salted snacks. Body-building: chicharon, chicken skin, bacon, deep fried food including fish balls, kikiams, etc. Body-regulating: fruits canned in heavy syrup, sweetened fruits or vegetables or deep fried.

For this year the RTWG here already passed three resolutions namely: No. 1, a resolution Recommending to the Regional Nutrition Council the Adoption of the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN) 2017-2022;  No. 2, a resolution Endorsing to the Regional Nutrition Council the Inclusion of Nutrition Indicators in the Assessment Criteria for Conferment of the Seal of Good Local Governance for Local Government Units; and recently the, "Policy and Guidelines on Healthy Food and Beverage Choices in Schools and in DepEd Offices". (Jack C. Gadaingan)