2019 National Outstanding District Nutrition Program Coordinator
Grace C. Jardin
Province of Sorsogon
Located at the tip of the Bicol Peninsula and facing the island of Samar, Sorsogon is the southernmost province in Luzon that is subdivided into 14 municipalities and one city. Known as the ‘Land of Kasanggayahan’ or ‘A Life of Prosperity,’ Sorsogon has a lot to offer from year-round festivities, amazing tourist destinations to wide variety of gastronomic experiences made possible by good-natured and friendly Sorsoganons.
Passion for nutrition and serving the public has been at the roots of Ms. Grace C. Jardin. She graduated with a degree in BS Nutrition at the University of Sto. Tomas in 1986 and has been in service as District Nutrition Program Coordinator (DNPC) at the Provincial Health Office (PHO) of Sorsogon since 1989. Prior to public service she started as a volunteer nutritionist at a non-government organization, and as a nutritionist-dietitian at the PHO.
With over 30 years of experience, one of DNPC Jardin’s biggest achievements was to assist 8 Barangay Nutrition Scholars (BNS) in attaining 2nd level Civil Service Eligibility. Some of which became a teacher, a nutrition staff in the municipality, a contender for the National Outstanding Barangay Nutrition Scholar (NOBNS) and eventually became a Municipal Nutrition Action Officer in Castilla, Sorsogon. Also, two other BNSs from Sorsogon were nominated for the NOBNS. Her continued advocacy for 608 BNSs include provision incentives and allowances, and conduct of capacity building through trainings, seminars, and orientation. She has also supported various nutrition programs such as: first, the implementation of a 120-day supplementary feeding for 6–59-month-old severely and moderately wasted children which initially started with egg as the sole food commodity. The program evaluation results reported 60.67% of the beneficiaries improved nutritional status and 36.76% in status quo. To ensure continued proper development of the children whose nutritional status did not improve, a multifactorial enhancement program was implemented consisting of 30 days provision of fresh milk, monggo beans, and multivitamins for children; and vegetable seeds and food packs for families. After a month of augmentation, 81.21% of beneficiaries had improved nutritional status. Second, monitoring of children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) through weight and height validation, and provision of appropriate interventions such as referral to In-Patient Therapeutic Care (ITC) or Out-Patient Therapeutic Care (OTC). Third, support for the First 1000 days program by conducting regular monitoring of Lactation Stations and Wellness Clinics in food establishments, offices, fast food chains, and other institutions with the mother-baby-friendly assessment team. Lastly, integration of nutrition in emergencies in the disaster risk reduction management in health response plan.
The arduous work of Provincial Nutrition Committee headed by Hon. Governor Robert Lee Rodrigueza and its members, and the cooperation of the city and municipalities in the implementation of nutrition programs showed great outcome on the nutritional status of children. From 2017 and 2019, the prevalence of stunting in children 0-59 months old decreased from 20.11% to 17.14%, prevalence of underweight decreased from 9.5% to 8.07%, while prevalence of wasting also decreased from 6.8% to 4.8%, respectively.
DNPC Jardin believes that the changes in the administration following the upcoming elections will not hinder the continuous implementation of nutrition programs. The Province of Sorsogon has an approved 2022 budget of 7 million pesos for nutrition including the Dietary Supplementation Program (DSP) for pregnant women, undernourished preschool and school children; and 6-23 months old children; Pabasa sa Nutrisyon for mothers with underweight and wasted children, and pregnant women; and nutrition-specific and -sensitive interventions in the approved Local Nutrition Action Plans of its municipalities and city. On the other hand, displacement of BNSs continues to arise with the change in administration, coupled with the designation of nutrition action officers handling two or more offices. DNPC Jardin hopes to address these challenges with her upcoming term as Provincial Nutrition Action Officer (PNAO) through constant advocacy to local chief executives in strengthening nutrition programs at the local level.
As DNPC Jardin moves on to the next chapter of her career as PNAO of Sorsogon, having the chance to train the succeeding DNPC, her advice is to have patience towards unwanted situations, and to oversee the barangay nutrition scholars in their work, especially during evaluations and training even if they are at the provincial level. And as she learned from the preceding PNAO, she hopes to carry on being people-centered, especially for indigent people to determine the specific needs of their beneficiaries. With all this combined, as DNPC Jardin said, “love your community and the community will love you.”
Julia Marie S. Los Baños, RND
Nutrition Officer II
Nutrition Surveillance Division
National Nutrition Council