News Release

Child Nutrition Program Helps Hundreds of Children and Mothers in the Philippines

In May 2018, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints approved a pilot to address child malnutrition among its members in developing countries. The following year, the Welfare Self Reliance Executive Committee of the Church approved the steps to conduct screenings in the Philippines to assess needs and develop solutions.

The Child Nutrition Program (CNP)  aims to determine the status of the Church's primary children aged 0 to 60 months and develop interventions to bring everyone to a healthy level. The program also aims to educate mothers and expectant mothers on various topics addressing proper nutrition for mothers and children. Through this initiative, local church leaders can collaborate with government agencies and non-government organizations to educate families on the effects of malnutrition and help them implement long-term solutions.

The Philippines is the first area to pilot the project. Since then, several stakes/districts (diocese) have responded to this initiative and have launched their initial screening for their primary children and their mothers. 

Bogo District Leaders Partners with Government and Local Resources to Jumpstart its Child Nutrition Program

"It takes an entire village or community to address the increasing malnutrition in many parts of our country," said President Ronnel Gaco of Bogo District.

After receiving an initial presentation about Child Nutrition Program during a WSR Summit, President Gaco knew he needed to act immediately. So, armed with this burning desire to help children and their mothers get better nutrition, he rallied his leaders and organized their Nutrition Council, comprised of leaders in the High Council, branch and district Primary and Relief Society, and specialists. Within two months of training and preparation, they welcomed  400 members and guests to their initial screening and assessment activity on August 26, 2022, at the district center in Bogo, Cebu. 

One of the key local resources, Rise and Rebuild International Foundation, hosted a free lunch for all the children and mothers who came to the screening. Meanwhile, Congresswoman Janize Z. Salimbangon, 4th District Representative, and Dr. Parolita A. Mission, Regional Nutrition Program Coordinator- National Nutrition Council Region 7, fully supported the program. Their offices are sending vitamins for children and holding a series of workshops about nutrition for mothers. 

"Jesus was perceptive, and so are you. We can only know the true needs of our children if we perceive them. We must listen, observe and see," Sister Rebecca Craven, 2nd Counselor of the General Young Women Presidency, emphasized in her talk. "Thank you for surrounding them with your loving protection. Nobody can do anything unless we bond and make a difference in our children's lives. To you, our beautiful children, you are the future," she added.

"You are filled with compassion just like our Savior, Jesus Christ. I encourage you to be more compassionate, especially to the little ones," Elder Carlos Revillo of the Area Presidency also expressed his gratitude for the combined efforts. 

Puerto Princesa Stake Holds Intervention to Address Malnutrition through Child Nutrition Program

The Nutrition Council of Puerto Princesa Stake was formed and organized in March 2022, three months before the first CNP activity. This action gave the council enough time to coordinate with the barangay nearest their target venue, the stake meetinghouse. Managers from the Welfare and Self-Reliance department of the Area Office conducted virtually as well as face-to-face orientation sessions for the council and assisted in the initial activity. The first CNP screening activity was held on May 31 of this year.

After a successful screening, the council held another round of activities on August 20. The session includes a follow-through of the initial screening. The 3-month interval follow-up screening of the 1st batch found that 80% of the children improved in height and weight. The results encouraged everyone that the efforts in screening, counseling, and interventions contributed to the children's well-being. 

Sipocot Philippines Stake Child Nutrition Program Screening

On July 21, 2022, around 100 children and several pregnant mothers participated in the Child Nutrition Program screening in Sipocot Philippines Stake. The heavy rain did not stop the parents and guardians from taking their children to the stake center for the said program.

Ernesto Carcido, South Centro Barangay Captain; Fe Ebuega, Sipocot Rural Health Unit Midwife; Mia Charessa Maniwang, Sipocot Rural Health Unit Nurse; Dra Nena Cruz, Sipocot Rural Health Unit Medical Health Officer, and other barangay nutrition scholars and health workers graced the affair. 

     "As the Stake Primary president, our goal is to nourish the primary children spiritually. And because of the Church's Child Nutrition Program, I feel it is also vital that we as leaders aid on their physical nourishment," Clarita Sablay emphasized in her message.

Adelfa Sañol from Pasacao Ward (congregation) said that the program helped combat malnutrition and taught mothers like her the importance of preparing nutritious food for their children. 

     Fe Bascuniana-Quinzon also expressed, "One thing I learned from CNP is the importance of a mother's health. As a first-time mom-to-be, I really have no idea how to deal with morning sickness." She narrated how the program helped her understand her responsibilities for her unborn child's health. "I learned little by little what to eat to avoid vomiting and keep my weight and body normal," she added. 

     Rica Jean Rosento-Esterninos, a mother of two, shared, "CNP educated me and my husband on how we can both take care of our children and their nutrition." She emphasized that if the kids are healthy and raised well, they will stay and progress in the Church. 

President Christian Repuya of Sipocot Stake expressed gratitude for the Church's partnership with the government. He added that as they take care of the future generations, they rear future leaders too. 

A second screening is scheduled for November 2022 this year. After that, the local leaders will evaluate the results of the intervention made over the past six months. 

Operation Timbang Promotes Children's Health in Cebu City

The Cebu City Philippines Stake (diocese) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, in coordination with the Department of Health and National Nutrition Council, held a Child Nutrition Program Screening and Assessment initiative called "Operation Timbang" at the Lahug Chapel on August 16, 2022. 

The program aims to assist parents and children five years and below in awareness of the importance of child health and welfare.

"Operation Timbang" was participated by leaders and members of the Cebu City Stake, representatives from the Welfare and Self Reliance Program (WSR) of the Church, and local health workers from the Cebu City area. 

"We need to harmonize all these nutrition interventions existing in our city. When we do that, our efforts will be amplified, and we will be able to reach more children," Ms. Emma Sevillo, a nutritionist from Cebu City, said in her message.

The Church has had a long-standing relationship with local health departments of different cities in the Philippines, both of which aim to improve Filipinos' health and welfare status, whether members or non-members of The Church. 

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