Gov’t, private sector join hands to address hunger

National, News

MANILA – The Inter-agency Task Force on Zero Hunger on Tuesday

The government has enhance its campaign to free more Filipinos from hunger and achieve food security.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, Task Force Zero Hunger chairman, said that apart from socio-economic challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic, “we are also battling an equally important fight—our fight against hunger.”

“Food is one of the most basic human rights and the lack of it—or hunger is one, if not, the greatest violation of this basic human right,” Nograles said during the recent virtual launch of the “Zero hunger movement: Pilipinas Kontra Gutom.”

Nograles pointed out that “zero hunger” is top 2 in the United Nations’ sustainable goals –– a challenge directly linked to other problems including poverty and climate change, and hunger is one of the key priority areas of the government.

He said President Duterte has created the Inter-agency Task Force on Zero Hunger “to assess, coordinate and monitor government initiatives to ensure a whole-of-nation approach to eradicate hunger.”

During the launch, Nograles said hunger incidence during the pandemic increased at 30.7%, the highest rate since the previous record of 23.8% in March 2012. He stressed, however, that the government should not resolve the hunger issues alone.

“As we addressed the needs of providing food during these trying times, we also need to have a systemic and sustainable solution that engages our food producers, lawmakers, business and the general public,” he said.

He added that “there is a need for a national movement aimed at inspiring and empowering individuals, businesses, organizations, and governments to make tangible actions towards ending hunger in the Philippines.”

Nograles said it is a call to come together as a nation to help save and change, noting that “hunger is a persistent, complex, and multi-dimensional problem we continue to face as a nation.”

The “Pilipinas Kontra Gutom” program is a multisectoral movement involving the government, academe, non-profit organizations, private corporations, and the public. It seeks seeking to address issues related to involuntary hunger such as food production, food distribution and accessibility, hidden hunger and malnutrition, and food shortages during crisis times.

The program, Nograles said, allows all organizations, companies, and concerned groups to contribute to the government’s anti-hunger efforts and includes supporting Filipino farmers and other food producers, advocating malnutrition, and providing relief assistance, particularly during crises or emergencies.

Nograles thanked the Pilipinas Kontra Gutom’s founding members from some of the country’s biggest corporations including Coca-Cola, Dole Philippines, J&J Philippines, McDonald’s, Metrobank, and San Miguel Corporation.

He said these founding members have initially pledged to provide 100,000 meals for identified communities in the National Capital Region (NCR) and other key priority areas through the Ronald McDonald House Charities’ McDonald’s Kindness Kitchen.

The academe, non-government organizations (NGOs), and other private individuals have also been urged to join the zero-huger movement. “Everyone must be involved, everyone must contribute so everyone will be able to partake of a meal so we can end hunger together as a nation,” Nograles said.

He said the movement also aims to empower farmers and boost their family income by helping them improve their agricultural techniques and processes, and support them in product marketing.

Nograles stressed that “one farmer empowered is equivalent to one family uplifted.”

Giant corporations have, meanwhile, committed support to the movement. Coca-Cola PH public affairs director,   Jonah Pernia, they have pledged to provide 100,000 bottled water to go with the meals. “We will help in all the initiatives towards the zero hunger roadmap such as supporting farm irrigation,” he vowed.

DOLE-PH general manager, Banjo Castillo has likewise assured they will pursue providing nutritious food to Filipino families as part of the Pilipinas Kontra Gutom initiative.

Raghu Krishnan, J&J PH managing director/president, committed to support 3,000 infant kids and provide nutritional packages as well as hygiene products for them.

Kenneth Yang, McDonald’s PH president/CEO, vowed to continue providing 100,000 meals to Filipinos. He invited the public to join their cause by visiting rmhc.org.ph for contribution and other donations.

Digs Dimagiba, Metrobank chief marketing officer, pledged to provide meaningful banking to the Filipino people to sustain their needs during calamities. Metrobank Foundation has been providing financial assistance and other funding efforts amid the pandemic, in partnership with the government and other private firms.

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