The Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) in Nueva Ecija drums up good nutrition in its nearby communities through month-long activities for mothers and children in this year’s nutrition month.
“It is must to assist local government units in improving the nutrition status of their towns because data show that chronic malnutrition in the country is prevalent with 300,000 wasted or underweight children under 5 years old,” Dr. Diadem B. Gonzales-Esmero, head of PhilRice Community Relations Office, said.
Mothers, mostly in their 20s, learned ways of preparing creative, nutritious, yet inexpensive lunch boxes for their children through Rice Food Art Contests in the province’s Science City of Muñoz and in Guimba.
About 50 attractive meals worth not more than P80 were shared to 100 mothers who participated in the event with their children. Vegetable seedlings were also distributed to the participants.
“I prepared my son’s baon with a plane-shaped rice and accented the box with his favorite cars to encourage him to eat vegetables and fruits. It’s not difficult to motivate a 4-year-old kid to eat squash and malunggay with this technique. Besides, it only took me 30 minutes to prepare this baon,” Kimberly Ibarra, first place in Science City of Muñoz, said.
Ibarra also said that she will consider including other forms of rice such as brown, purple, and black rice on his son’s diet to ensure that he gets good nutrients from rice.
“In this activity, I became aware that pigmented rice and the brown rice are healthier than the usual white rice we consume because they are loaded with antioxidants,” she said.
The Rice Chemistry and Food Science Division also conducted free nutrition counseling with the Region III’s Nutritionist/Dietitians of National Nutrition Council to PhilRice staff.
Students, local government health officials, and PhilRice employees also learned about the role of agriculture in nutrition security in a seminar by Leila Africa, director of the Institute of Human Nutrition and Food in University of the Philippines Los Baños. The activity is in partnership with the local government units and their social welfare and development offices.
Highlights of this year’s PhilRice Nutrition month celebration include: