News Release

Backyard Gardening Helps Families Address Malnutrition in Aparri Philippines District

Sister Bernadeth C. Reyes lives in San Lorenso, Lal-lo, Cagayan Valley. Her family belongs to the Magapit branch of Aparri Philippines District. 

“In our small branch, we are given an opportunity to learn and become self-reliant. Our branch used the WSR toolbox and looked for an initiative that was appropriate for many of us. The members in our branch are eager to apply the principles of being self-reliant,” she said.

Last year, their District leaders launched the Child Nutrition Program, one of the newest services offered by the Welfare and Self-Reliance Services. The Child Nutrition Program (CNP) focuses on screening infants and children five years and below. This program aims to address the problem of malnutrition in children through various interventions. It is aligned with the Republic Act 11148 or the Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay (also known as the First 1000 Days Act), which was signed in November 2018 and should also cover expectant mothers’ maternal health. The RA 11148 consolidates health and nutrition services to ensure that the country’s future is secure in the hands of healthy women and children. 

In addition to CNP alignment with RA 11148, it should also be rolled out in three stages for a holistic approach and access to government-provided resources.  This approach aims to bring about a lifelong positive impact not only on members of the Church but on the community’s productivity and economy. In the Philippines, several stakes and districts are already actively engaged in this program.

     Unfortunately, Sister Reyes’s son was among the undernourished children based on the weighing and measuring conducted by their nutrition committee. At first, she was worried about the information she received, but she believed that help would be available to overcome her son’s condition. 

“I am very thankful that our branch did a supplemental feeding to fight the nutrition issue of our son. With these Child Nutrition Program measures in place, I learned that awareness of our children’s health is very important. I also realized that good health is about fueling our children’s bodies with good things and wisely engaging in activities that will enable them to function optimally,” she explained. 

Brother Willie Estrada, WSR Manager, was instrumental in sustaining the efforts of the members of the Magapit branch. Aside from holding regular training for the district’s Nutrition Council, he also reinforced backyard gardening so families could produce their vegetables. He also introduced a few government and community resources directly involved in targeting malnutrition. “By maintaining their physical and spiritual health, we can be assured that our children would be blessed with strength and endurance.” 

Sister Reyes and the other families in the branch didn’t waste time. They immediately set up their backyard and followed the counsel to plant. After several months, they started harvesting and feeding their children from their produce. Gardening has been a big help in their children's health; it expands their appreciation for nature and teaches families to work together. When they have a garden that produces well, they are not entirely dependent on others for food.

Moreover, they can select crops they like that will provide a nutritious diet. Growing their food gives them the satisfaction of providing for themselves. They can also trade or produce with their neighbors, save money and help those in need. 

“I am grateful that Heavenly Father has given us a responsible and hardworking husband. I believe that the Church teaches every one of us to become self-reliant. I am grateful for the Church leadership and the Initiative our leaders have. They provided us with the seeds and the tools to start. Having a small garden is a life-changing experience. It gives us hope and courage to make our lives better. Buying vegetables in the market needs money, but growing our food needs faith, hope, courage, and many prayers for our soil to yield a good harvest. Maintaining a garden, whether big or small, makes us closer to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ,” Sister Reyes testified.

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