BAGUIO CITY — A new feeding program has come to provinces in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) that aims to to correct any nutrient deficiencies and thereby promote healthy growth and development. A women’s group, however, criticized it.
Named “Vitameal,” it is supposedly a new hope for nutritionally challenged children in the Cordilleras. This school year, provinces in CAR started receiving their rations of Vitameal thru day care and Grade One pupils.
At the Innabuyog regional council meet last August 15, members from all around the region had raised their qualms about the product.
“Mapait. Medyo sweet and sour. Lasang betsin. Ayaw kainin ng mga bata, kaya kailangan pa naming gumastos para sa ihahalo namin para kainin nila,” (It tastes bitter, with a hint of sweet and sour and it also tastes of monosodium glutamate. The children do not like it. We have to buy additional ingredients for them to eat it) said Estrell Balutoc of Innabuyog – Abra
Carol Bagyan of Innabuyog – Kalinga said, “Palitan kaming mga magulang ng pagluto. Pakukuluan namin at hahaluan ng iba-ibang sangkap.” (Paarents take turns cooking. We boil it and add in different ingredients)
Parents are enforced to add supplemental ingredients to the Vitameal since children do not seem to favor its taste. “Nagdadagdag pa kami ng malagkit, asukal, tsokolate, para kainin ng mga bata yung Vitameal,” (We have to add in glutinous rice, sugar, cocoa, just so the kids would eat this Vitameal”) added Bagyan.
Parents are suspicious of this Vitameal program as the servings given to the children were without a decent packaging. Not even a label for parents to be informed of its ingredients. “Natatakot kami at baka may GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) iyan.” (We fear it may contain GMOs) said Zenaida Hangdaan of Innabuyog – Ifugao
Parents also claimed that upon asking the teachers in charge of the Vitameal’s distribution of its ingredients and the nutrients that their children should be able to absorb from it, the teachers responded that they did not know exactly what this contain.
“The whole nation is stricken by hunger and poverty whether Malacañang accepts it or not” says Innabuyog Chairperson Vernie Yocogan- Diano.
“Her hunger mitigation programs are actually just dole outs that attempt to sugarcoat the worsening poverty. Her feeding program does not even reach the poorest of the poor, who are in most need of help. This is just another opportunity for graft and corruption to take place,” she added.
Innabuyog states that what should be pursued are long-term policies toward genuine agrarian reform and agricultural development, job creation and a national policy for health care and education. # Myko Chiong(NorthernDispatch)