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While they say that the Filipino children are the hope and future of our country, their shot for an equal opportunity to have a healthy and good quality of life is our responsibility. Malnutrition confronts and threatens our young children and collective efforts and commitment from intersectoral linkages and partnerships are the best solutions to address this.

This was the battlecry of the Department of Science and Technology – Food and Nutrition Research Institute among its partners in the recently-concluded Year-Starter Event dubbed as “Alay mo, Kinabukasan ko: Solidifying Intersectoral Support Against Malnutrition” on March 17, 2022 at the Dusit Thani Manila.

FNRI’s 2021 accomplishments, future plans and Institutional Road Map, as well as the Malnutrition Reduction Program (MRP) and how the DOST-FNRI’s accomplishments and future plans are aligned to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Dr. Imelda Angeles-Agdeppa, the DOST-FNRI Director IV and Scientist II, delivered a Welcome Message for both on-site and virtual attendees. “Our accomplishments and recognitions for 2021 further fuels us to pursue with more dedication and vigor our R&D and S&T programs and projects on food and nutrition. Today's event aims to solicit and encourage partnership to fight malnutrition because children are the builders of our future for better productivity and economic growth of the country.”, Dr. Agdeppa underscored.

Dr. Agdeppa mentioned the Institute’s accomplishment for 2021, including the study on the benefits of virgin coconut oil in the fight against COVID-19; launching of the Enhanced Nutribun; new food technologies; and various awards and recognitions such as the 2021 Alberto G. Romualdez Jr. Outstanding Health Research Award (AROHRA) for the Malnutrition Reduction Program, ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System recertification, PNS ISO/IEC 7025: 2017 accreditation of the Nutritional Genomics Laboratory, Level 3 of the FNRI Institutional Research Ethics Committee, and Level 2 Philippine Quality Award.

DOST Secretary Fortunato “Boy” T. de la Peña also graced the event with an Inspirational Message in which he mentioned that the DOST continues to relentlessly work to realize its mission to direct, lead, and coordinate the country's scientific and technological efforts to maximize the Filipinos' economic and social benefits. Programs and projects, like Science for Change Program (S4CP) and Community Empowerment thru Science & Technology (CEST) Program, are the DOST’s alay for the Filipinos.

With regards to malnutrition that we are persistently confronted with, Sec. Boy reached out among the year-starter event attendees by saying, “In this fight, we cannot do this alone. We need inter-sectoral support. We need your help. Solidify your partnership with the DOST and the DOST-FNRI in our common fight against malnutrition."

Various DOST-FNRI partners gave testimonials on how the DOST-FNRI’s MRP has helped them and the communities they serve. First is Mr. Racky D. Doctor, President of Nutridense Food Manufacturing Corporation, who looks forward to continous working with the DOST-FNRI in achieving the SDGs.

Ms. Milagros “Millie” Kilayko, President of Negrense Volunteers for Change Foundation, thanked the DOST-FNRI for bringing a science-based intervention approach in tackling malnutrition in their areas of operation. Ms. Mary Ann “Baby” Montemayor, CEO of Villa Margarita Corporation, a new partner, is grateful for the service and dedication of the DOST-FNRI staff for the successful technology transfer despite the limitations brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In her Message of Support, Department of Health Assistant Secretary and National Nutrition Council (NNC) Executive Director Dr. Azucena M. Dayanghirang expressed full commitment and partnership with the DOST-FNRI in the continuous fight against malnutrition.

DOST Undersecretary for Research and Development Dr. Rowea Cristina L. Guevara also gave a Message of Encouragement among the attendees.

Ang MRP ay isang huwarang modelo ng isang programang pang-nutrisyon na naka-ugat sa agham at teknolohiya. Ito ay tumutulong magpakilos sa mga iba’t ibang sektor ng lipunan upang maisakatuparan ang pag-unlad ng estado ng nutrisyon, kalusugan at kabuhayan. Pinagbibigkis nito ang ambag ng mga nanay at ibang taga-pangalaga ng mga bata, mga frontline workers sa nutrisyon at kalusugan, local na opisyal, mga entrepreneurs at iba pang mga may ambag sa kaunlaran o stakeholders.”, said Dr. Guevara, as she encouraged attendees to heed DOST-FNRI’s call for collaboration in support of the MRP.

In the Committment Session, partners had the option to chose from the four MRP DOST PINOY Packages. Packages #1 to #3 each has a corresponding number of infants and young children 6 months to 2 years old who will benefit from 120 days of complementary feeding of DOST-FNRI developed complementary foods.

Meanwhile, those who want to sponsor the equipment, lot or building needed for complementary food processing facilities may choose Package #4.

It was also announced during the Committment Session that MRP is included in the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) National Priority Plan (NPP). Donations to the programs included in NEDA’s NPP are entitled to a full tax deduction as an incentive.

Partners who signified support were Robinsons Supermarket, Nestle Philippines, San Miguel Corporation, CDO Foodsphere, Nutridense Food Manufacturing Corporation, Nutrition and Beyond Corporation, Amway Philippines, Ms. Maria Magdalena Perez of San Miguel Corp., and Land Bank of the Philippines.

To date, the DOST-FNRI raised Php 1.5M pledges from said partners.

Moreover, partners may choose from the MRP areas where they want the complementary feeding to be conducted. These areas were identified by the National Economic and Development Authority – National Priority Plan (NEDA-NPP) and the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN), where the prevalence of malnutrition among Filipino children is still a concern.

DOST-FNRI Deputy Director Dr. Anthony P. Calibo officially capped the fruitful year-starter event. Dr. Calibo thanked everyone for the unyielding support to the DOST-FNRI and the MRP. “Science is the cornerstone in the development and conduct of appropriate, relevant and timely nutrition programs and researches. It is through science that we can find innovative solutions to problems, such as hunger, food insecurity, and all forms of malnutrition, which can help lead to a better future”, Dr. Calibo stated in concluding his message.

The DOST-FNRI, through its MRP Team, will be in constant coordination with partners regarding the conduct of complementary feeding in their selected areas.

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