by Magno C. Ardenia Jr.
Concerned individuals from the Los Baños community extend their help to the needy children of Brgy. Anos, Los Baños, Laguna by providing the budget needed to continue the barangay feeding program until December 13, 2013.
Barangay officials, Los Baños citizens and several students from UPLB worked together to sponsor the weekly food budget for the participating children every weekday afternoon. According to Brgy. Anos Capt. Celerino Balasoto, these sponsors saw the feeding program sponsorship schedule posted on the barangay hall and volunteered to offer help by giving amounts coming from their own pockets.
Prior the July to December feeding program project, the Catholic Women’s League (CWL) of Los Baños already facilitated a three month feeding program from April to July of this year. When the CWL’s feeding program ended, the barangay officials of Anos, led by Brgy. Captain Balasoto, felt the need to continue the program.
The barangay officials of Anos made a list of the foods that will be served every week, together with the cost of each menu, for the sponsors to see. A week of feeding program costs one thousand pesos. The list includes arrozcaldo, champorado, sopas and pansit lome. The menu is based on barangay officials’ observation that these “meryenda” type of foods are enjoyed more by the children than the full meal served by CWL.
“Kaya ko naman nilagay yun (weekly feeding program schedule), para malaman nila (people willing to help) na natanggap kami ng sponsor para sa feeding program, na kailangan ng sponsor dito.” The Brgy. Captain knew that he needed to set an example so other people would be motivated to extend help too. After shouldering the budget for the first two weeks, help from different individuals came in.
Out of Love
Mrs. Edith Lozana is the Barangay Nutrition Scholar (BNS) assigned to facilitate the overall conduct of the feeding program. She is the one responsible for cooking and serving the food to the children.
Mrs. Lozano’s two decades of experience as BNS made her fit for the work as she is already familiar with the different ways on how to serve vegetables to the children.
She shared that everyday, an average of 25 children coming from the needy families of Brgy. Anos, come to the barangay hall to participate in the program. Some children come with their parents.
She further shared that it is very fulfilling to see improvements on the children’s health. Many of the participating children used to be sickly before the implementation of the program.
She also monitors the weight improvement of the children every end of the month. On the average, the participating children gain 3 grams every month. However, others who have chronic malnutrition do not gain weight easily.
Mrs. Lozana does not get tired of feeding the children. She has come to love the children who are always cooperative when they go to her for food every day. “Masisipag pumunta yung mga bata,” she shared. Seeing those kids’ happy faces motivates her to continue the work.
Feeling the need
According to Mrs. Lozano, the children really need support. Many of them comes from a family who cannot afford to eat three times a day. That is why sponsors are a big help to continuously improve the children’s nourishment.
Kagawad Nona Umali, one of the sponsors, extended help because she can see that there are many malnourished children in Brgy. Anos. She wants to share some of her allowance from government service.
“Syempre masaya kame,” she said seeing that the children are really happy with the program.
A student from UPLB who also sponsored the program shared that it is very fulfilling to be able to help.
“Menos-menos sa gastos”
Andrela Lapitan, a 30 year old dialysis patient from Rhoda Subdivison Brgy. Anos, is really thankful to those who are helping to extend the feeding program. Her child is one of the program’s beneficiaries.
Suffering from kidney problems, most of Andrela’s money is spent for her medicine. She is also separated from her husband. Thus, it is difficult for her to provide the needs of her child.
She is happy to see her child’s improvement in weight and performance. Her child used to be selective on what food to eat but now enjoys the different foods served in the feeding program.
Registered Nutritionist and Dietitian Joyce Parco said that it is positive when a child learns not to be selective on food anymore due to the variation of food served.
“Nakakabusog!” This what the 7 year old, Bea Pantallion, said when asked on how she feels about the feeding program. “Masaya! Ang sarap e,” the smile on her face shows that she really enjoys the food.
Bea, a grade two student from BN Calara Elementary School, said she has been part of the program for five months now. She already gained weight and is not as sickly as before anymore.
Just like the other participating children, she likes champorado the most. When she gets home, she usually does not eat anymore as she is already full.
“Salamat,” she uttered as she expressed how grateful she is to the people who are giving supports for the feeding program.
“Madami ng bata ang nagugutom, hindi na kayang pakainin ng gobyerno, so kailangan yung private sector, yung may kaya, o yung mayaman, e tumulong, yung may magandang loob para dito sa feeding program,” said Capt. Balasoto. “Hindi lang ‘to sa barangay lamang, kailangan nating magtulong-tulong,” he added.
Slots for the remaining unsponsored weeks are still open to those who would like to help and participate in the program.