Department of Education Health and Nutrition Department-IX and Western Mindanao State University’s (WMSU) College of Home Economics-Nutrition and Dietetics Department are in partnership in the aim of developing regional local-indigenous vegetable recipes in the hope of improving the nutritional health of schoolchildren. The test kitchen is on-going and is now on its Trial 3 last June 7.
The trials for the recipes are held in the WMSU’s College of Home Economics. The technical working group are composed of College of Home Economics faculty members with the support of the Nutritionist-Dietitians’ Association of the Philippines-Zamboanga Chapter. The working group is to meet the following criteria in the development of the said recipes: each recipe must contain 250-300 kcal per serving, 10 grams of protein, 100 ug RE of Vitamin A; it must be good for 10 servings per recipe; recipe must be at low cost at Php10.00 per serving; all ingredients should be available in the region; must exhibit variety of flavours and method of cooking; it must contain micro and macro nutrients needed by elementary pupils (between 7 to 9 years of age); and lastly, it must be easy to prepare.
The Trial 3 featured recipes such as Spaghetti Surprise, Morisqueta ala Rico, Almondigas, Barangay Lumpia and Creamy Corn Soup. Each recipe is unique in its own sense because they use local vegetables as substitute for the main ingredients or even to improve the taste of the meal prepared. They made the recipes equally appealing especially to the picky schoolchildren who refuse to eat vegetables.
For a background, the project of coming up with these recipes by the Department of Education is in line with the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) No. 1; Target No. 2, which will eradicate poverty and hunger and reduce malnutrition to 50% by the year 2015. The DepEd is in full compliance with the Millennium Development Goal especially in the aspect of ensuring the quality of basic education.
Moreover, the thrust of DepEd in attaining quality basic education must be supported with programs and projects addressing in particular the young learner’s nutrition health. Studies show that low-quality nutrition can be detrimental to the development cognitive capabilities, such as learning, problem solving and memorizing. In addition, malnourishment can lead to deficiencies in vision, fine motors skills, language and social skills as well as an array of chronic illnesses lasting well into adulthood. DepEd firmly believes that improvements in the learners’ nutritional health, school attendance, class participation and completion will eventually be achieved.
The development of the said recipes is considered to be a breakthrough in the School Nutrition Program in our region. It simply involves the creative transformation of school garden yields to nutrient-rich meals readily available for supplemental feeding purposes. This is in line with the “Gulayan sa Paaralan Project” of the Department of Agriculture under the National Greening Program of President Benigno S. Aquino III. (EKEENA O. LIM, WMSU PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE)