Solon says malunggay, papaya in feeding programs to fight malnutrition

A LAWMAKER is promoting access to and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables like malunggay and papaya to fight malnutrition especially among children and pregnant women.

Rep. Ma. Theresa B. Bonoan-David (4th District, Manila) filed House Bill 6074, which tasks government agencies like the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Health (DoH) and the Department of Education (DepEd) to collectively promote greater consumption of fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthy foodstuffs in low-income communities and depressed urban areas.

Bonoan-David said the rising food prices have made it difficult for the poor to purchase healthy foods, thus exposing them to cheap foodstuffs that are lacking in essential nutrients.

“Poor families usually resort to cheap but usually unhealthy food like noodles, pork cracklings and fish crackers just to pacify their children’s pangs of hunger,” Bonoan-David said.

Bonoan-David said combating malnutrition need not be expensive as the country is blessed with more than enough supply of locally-grown vegetables and fruit – malunggay, saluyot and papaya to name a few.

“Making these healthy food stuffs accessible to poor people will not only mitigate hunger especially among poor children but nourish them as well,” Bonoan-David said.

High prices result in a vast number of “poor children in low-income communities and depressed urban areas who are undernourished and sickly, preventing them from achieving their fullest potentials,” Bonoan-David added.

The bill directs the DoH to identify which fruits and vegetables and other healthy foodstuff are appropriate for the feeding programs in a locality and shall recommend these to the DA for purchasing.

“The DoH shall train volunteers and personnel in the health preparation, cooking of food for recipients of feeding programs,” Bonoan-David said.

The DA, on the other hand, is mandated under the bill to identify farmers, their organizations from which fresh fruit and vegetables are to be purchased and the farmers and farmers’ organizations shall be chosen pursuant to a transparent and fair selection system which the DA shall craft and implement.

Under the proposed bill, the DSWD shall have the responsibility of identifying community-based organizations who are to be the recipients of assistance by these concerned government agencies. The recipients shall administer feeding programs in low-income communities or in depressed urban areas.

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