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IIRR 'GarNESup' program ensures food, nutrition security in CALABARZON
By Gladys S. Pino

IMUS CITY, Cavite Feb. 28 (PNA) -- The International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) shared on Tuesday the success of its three-year action research program called GarNESup - a combination of Gardening, Nutrition Education and Feeding Supplement to improve food and nutrition security among schoolchildren in Cavite public schools.

IIRR’s learning and sharing event has benefited school children at Tinabunan Elementary School in this city and showcased the integrated school nutrition program model through lectures, garden visits and taste-testing of the recipes using indigenous vegetables from the school garden.

IIRR together with the Food and Nutrition Research Institute-Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST) and the Department of Education (DepEd) Calabarzon through funding support from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada developed and tested the “GarNESup” from 2012 to 2015 as a nutrition-based intervention and supplementary feeding program for schoolers.

The GarNESup program was proven to enhance bio-intensive nutrition gardens productivity and functionality and crop museums that aimed to retrieve and conserve crop cultivars.

It also improves a year-round availability of a diverse range of climate-resilient, locally adapted and nutritionally-rich vegetables that readily produced in school gardens.

Thus, the supplementary feeding of malnourished school children using iron-fortified rice and indigenous vegetables from school gardens significantly improved their nutrition status.

”The program also enhanced knowledge, attitude and practices on gardening and nutrition-related activities among children and parents through education,” explained Irish Baguilar, IIRR’s Philippine Program Food Security and Nutrition Manager.

Through the GarNeSup program, IIRR not only underscored the importance of nutrition education among teachers, school children and parents in school but also extended the learning and sharing at home to sustain the gains from school intervention.

Baguilar added that the supplementary feeding improved access to highly nutritious food, as well as reduced anaemia rates among selected school children.

The project has also created impacts among malnourished schoolchildren in some 58 Lighthouse Schools in Cavite prompting IIRR to embark on its wider adoption.

To scale up implementation of the GarNESup model, IIRR is reaching out to agencies implementing food and nutrition security-programs like the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Department of Agriculture (DA), non-government organizations and local government units.

The international rural development institute led the actual exposure of the nutrition model through lectures and garden visit facilitated by Marie Ann Galas; feeding room visit with SBPF Coordinator Gladys Bulacan and food sampling.

Attendees included government partners Pag-Asa I Barangay Chair Raymond S. Camama; DA-Imus City Agriculturist Robert Marges; Hermana Revilla of DSWD-Imus; National Nutrition Council Central and Calabarzon representatives; DepEd and Cavite school officials led by Tinabunan Elementary School principal Jesus Bergado; NGOs such as Plan International and World Vision.

GarNeSup program focuses on alleviating malnutrition especially among schoolchildren which causes low intellectual ability, low economic productivity, low reproductive performance, and lessens metabolic and cardiovascular performance. (PNA)

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