Improving food and nutrition security in the Philippines through school interventions
In the Philippines, an estimated 14 percent of school children experience severe malnutrition. Schools provide strategic, targeted pathways for delivering nutrition to children and, indirectly, to their families and communities. A three-year research project (2012 to 2015) developed and tested a school-based integrated nutrition model involving bio-intensive gardening, supplementary feeding and nutrition education in Cavite province of the Philippines. Results showed that supplementary feeding of malnourished school children using iron-fortified rice and indigenous vegetables from school gardens significantly improved their nutritional status. Enhanced knowledge, attitudes, and practices on gardening and nutrition were also observed among parents. Phase 2 of this project will fine-tune methods to operationalize the integrated model and test strategies for scaling it up in 58 schools in Cavite province. Two different methods for scaling up will be tested. The first will involve working with public elementary schools at a sub-national level while the second will be directed at national agencies, policymakers, and media. Production of teaching resources, learning, and information exchange within the school system and wide dissemination of research results throughout the region will help develop capacity within institutions. To ensure sustainability of the integrated nutrition model, the project will explore how local government and the private sector can support school nutrition. The 28-month project is led by the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction in collaboration with the Food and Nutrition Research Institute and the Department of Education. It will benefit an estimated 93,000 children from 546 schools.