BY ADRIAN P. NEMES III
National and local government units, along with the private sector, should help one another in the fight against hunger and malnutrition in the Philippines that was worsened by the pandemic, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said yesterday.
Nograles, who is the chairman of the Zero Hunger Task Force, was in Bacolod City as guest speaker in the distribution of food packs from McDonalds in relation to the fastfood chain’s Kindness Kitchen program.
Nograles said that when the pandemic is over, there will be a need to focus on how to resolve hunger and provide job opportunities to Filipinos who were displaced. He said the pandemic triggered a downfall of economy not only of the Philippines but most countries in the world.
A United Nations World Food Programme report showed the impact of the pandemic on hunger has been cruel for low-middle income countries and that include the Philippines, he said.
The report said that in the Philippines, based on the 2019 fourth quarter Social Weather Stations survey, 8.8 percent of households, or roughly 2.1 million Filipino families, experienced involuntary hunger once in three months, a slight improvement over the 9.1 percent or 2.3 million families logged in September 2019.
In July the following year, hunger rate in the Philippines deteriorated with at least one out of every five Filipinos experiencing voluntary hunger from May to July 2020, the SWS survey showed.
Nograles said that just like our fight against Covid, we also need to show force in order to fight against hunger in the country as the issue should not only be handled by the national government alone.
He stressed that the Zero Hunger Task Force is not just a non-government organization but a movement where national and the local government units and private sector joined forces. He said that McDonalds, Coca-cola, Metrobank, DOLE, and San Miguel Corp., among others, are their partners in carrying out programs against hunger.
Led by Marie Angeles, the executive director of McDonalds House Charities, some 1,911 food packs were distributed to barangays, 1-4, 6, 8, 10, 12 to 14, 16, 35, Banago, Singcang Airport, and Pahanocoy.
Two hundred food packs were also given to the Mary’s Home for the Aged, Holy Infant Nursery Foundation, and the city’s quarantine facilities.
The Task Force is also focused on helping farmers and fisherfolk in the country in achieving sustainable incomes, Nograles said.
Sometimes, fisherfolk have good catch and farmers have abundant harvest but still, it will not raise their income, so there is a need to ensure that their goods reach the market, he said. Nograles added that if there is enough food in the market, the prices of commodities will decrease.*