“In this country, every day, I witness a disaster,” Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Chairman and CEO Richard “Dick” Gordon remarked on the pressing issues of food insecurity and child malnutrition in the Philippines.
According to the 2021 Expanded National Nutrition Survey (ENNS) by the Philippines’ National Nutrition Council (NNC), two percent of Filipino households are severely food insecure. This translates to over 500,000 households, as indicated by the Philippine Statistics Authority’s 2020 Census of Population and Housing (CPH). UNICEF reports that every day, 95 children in the Philippines succumb to malnutrition.
Addressing agricultural scientists from Southeast Asia at the International Society for Southeast Asian Agricultural Sciences (ISSAAS) conference on November 8 in Manila, Gordon urged them to collaborate with humanitarian leaders, including himself and the government, to “wage a war” against food insecurity and child malnutrition and emphasize the urgency of addressing these issues.
“PRC will concentrate on tackling malnutrition among zero-to-five-year-old children, a critical phase in a child’s development. During the first two months, the PRC plans to distribute food to children aged zero to five and those from impoverished households using its fleet of food trucks. Simultaneously, the PRC will train mothers or guardians on how to prepare nutritious food independently, providing them with sustainable livelihoods.” Gordon explained.
Gordon shared some of the PRC’s ongoing interventions related to food security and nutrition, including hot meal distribution during disasters through PRC’s Hot Meals on Wheels, food distribution to impoverished communities through the Food Donation Law (which he authored), the establishment of vegetable and fruit farms nationwide, and the deployment of payloaders to clear farms inundated by mud after typhoons or flooding.