On the frontline in the fight against malnutrition in nearly 50 countries is Action Against Hunger (AAH). And today, the global humanitarian organization has announced initiatives that will encourage the public to help more children with lifesaving treatment while developing long-term solutions to stop malnutrition.

An estimated 33.4 percent or four million Filipino children under five years old are malnourished according to the latest survey conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology. Malnutrition doesn’t just affect the public or the health sector, it also affects the whole nation by slowing down economic growth. The Philippines loses P220 billion annually due to child malnutrition according to a 2018 report from UNICEF, Department of Health, and the National Nutrition Council. The country is ranked ninth among countries with the highest number of malnourished children. 

“Children suffering from malnutrition may never attain their full possible height, have weaker immune systems, and their brains may never develop to their full cognitive potential,”explains AAH country director Guy Halsey. “They will face learning difficulties in school and get sick more often. If not treated in the first 1,000 days of a person’s life, the effects of malnutrition are irreversible and will last that person’s whole life.” 

“Poverty, diseases and epidemics, natural disasters, and conflict are the four main causes of malnutrition in the Philippines,” enumerates  Halsey, noting that projects focusing on intervention works better in overcoming malnutrition. 

But for AAH to be able to pursue their projects, they need help. And this is where the two new campaigns come in. “Love Food Give Food” was previously known as “Restaurants Against Hunger.” Since 2016, its goal has been to ignite the active participation of food establishments and food lovers to stop the upward trend of extreme hunger. “Unlike its previous version, “Love Food Give Food” is not limited to restaurants. We hope to get the support of all types of food establishments; food kiosks, bakeries, cafés, carinderias, and even home-based online food vendors,” says fundraising and resource development manager Dale Nelson Divinagracia. 

Robby Goco
Guy Halsey, Robby Goco, Dale Divinagracia, and Rolando and Jac Laudico

Food establishments who would like to participate will choose one or two or more special items from their product list. These items are identified as “charity dishes.” For every purchase of these charity dishes from Oct. 1 to Dec. 1, a portion of the sale will be donated to AAH’s projects. “To be part of the movement against hunger, all they have to do is go to the website. The campaign is very easy to implement, it doesn’t entail much cost, and it unites the business staff and customers for a cause,” says Divinagracia.

Customers can do their part by patronizing the participating food establishments and purchasing the charity dishes within the campaign period. “This year, we also made it possible for people to directly donate to Action Against Hunger. Some food establishments will have donation boxes in their premises,” adds Divinagracia.

As of writing, the establishments that have confirmed their participation are: Alba, Baker & Cook, Buffalo Wild Wings, Bulgogi Brothers, Café Mediterranean, Chef Laudico OK Café, Chelsea Kitchen, Chotto Matte, The Coconut Club, Corner Tree Café, Cyma, D’ Doux Cafe & Patisserie, D’Kada Cafe & Bistro, Denny’s, Fish & Co., Friends & Family, Gallery by Chele, Green Pastures, Holy Grill, Italianni’s, Izakaya Sensu, Kabila, Kats Happy Food, Krazy Garlic, La Petite Fromagerie, The Lost Bread, Modern Shanghai, Mom & Tina’s Bakery Café Providore, Plank, Saboten, Sunkissed Café, Terraz, Texas Roadhouse, TGIFridays, and Village Tavern.

Another campaign under “Love Food Give Food” is the “100 for 5 Challenge.” According to the 2015 Family Income and Expenditure Survey of the Philippine Statistics Authority, the  average family monthly income is estimated at P22,000, and 41.5 percent of it is spent on food. This equates to P300 daily or P100 per meal. The challenge for homemakers is to create a nutritious and delicious meal while staying within the family budget.

“We presented this challenge to our partner chefs and they came up with healthy dishes that are within the budget of 100 for 5 persons,” says Divinagracia. Our ambassadors Rolando and Jac Laudico of Chef Laudico Guevarra’s and OK Café were game from the onset. Chef Rolando created tinola arroz caldo with malunggay pesto while chef Jac prepared fish soup with kamote fruit and leaves and white rice. Chef Chele Gonzalez and Carlos Villaflor of Gallery by Chele collaborated and produced chicken tinola with fideua while chef Robby Goco of Cyma, Green Pastures, and Souv, who can be credited for the 100 for five idea whipped up kare-kare rice with binagoongang tokwa.

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