12 October 2014

Pepsigla Strives to Help Filipino Children

Only very few companies commit their vast resources for the betterment of child health and nutrition. Fortunately for the Philippines, one such company has never wavered in its fight to improve the nutritional status of Filipino children.

According to Pepsi-Cola Products Philippines, Inc. (PCPPI) President Furqan Ahmed Syed, the difference that proper nutrition makes in a young child is immeasurable. "Pepsigla is our way to help narrow the nutrition gap in our communities," he says of the launch of Pepsigla in three elementary schools in Muntinlupa City.

Pepsigla is the beverage manufacturer’s school feeding program in partnership with Kabisig ng Kalahi, a non-government organization focused on helping underprivileged Filipino families. The program involves 90 pupils under the “wasted to severely wasted” category, or those who are malnourished by generally accepted standards. The selected students came from Muntinlupa Elementary School, Tunasan Elementary School, and Victoria Homes Elementary School.

The supplemental feeding program is a flagship undertaking being carried out nationwide by Kabisig under the leadership of its president, Victoria Wieneke. To date, over 100,000 malnourished children nationwide have received nutritional intervention under the Kabisig program.

"Being new here in the Philippines myself, I’ve been so fortunate to be surrounded by such a dynamic team of Filipinos. Through Pepsigla, we will continue that vitality across the Philippines, and what better way to do this than by nurturing our young, so they can get the education they deserve," adds Syed.

The setup at the launch site was simple yet nonetheless festive, as the children who came—some with parents in tow—seemed to have perceived that something good was unfolding right before their eyes. Their teachers, together with the principals of the three schools, and Kabisig leaders shared in the excitement that permeated the atmosphere within the multi-purpose hall of the Muntinlupa Elementary School.

The other PCPPI representatives who graced the affair included Chief Executive Officer Yeon-Suk No, Vice President for Corporate Affairs and Communications Jika Dalupan, and Senior Manager for Communications Rondell Torres, who also served as the host. All the speakers underscored their shared concern for the underprivileged children, and that school feeding was meant to make up for what the kids do not have at home. The six-month supervised feeding program is expected to help the malnourished children become healthy for school.

PCPPI now has nine elementary schools covered by Pepsigla: five of them in Luzon, two in the Visayas, and two in Zamboanga City, Mindanao. The six other schools are P. Gomez Elementary School and PR San Diego Elementary School, both in Metro Manila; Bacay Elementary School in Tulay, Minglanilla, Cebu; Sto. Nino Elementary School in Sto.Nino, Tanauan, Leyte; Mercedes Central School and Taluksangay Elementary School, both in Zamboanga City.

During its pilot run last year, the school feeding program being executed on a six-month basis yielded close to 100 percent substantial weight gain for some 90 pupils, aged five to 10 years old, who were initially classified as "wasted to severely wasted." After completing the 120-day regimen, 87 percent of the pupils were fully rehabilitated to normal health levels.

The daily lunch, given to the wards under the supervision of a school nurse, consisted of indigenous but highly nutritious vegetables plus one glass of milk. To ensure that the feeding program is non-obtrusive, no child is admitted without parental consent.

A survey by the Food and Nutritional Research Institute showed that a sizable percentage of Filipino school children remained underweight despite various efforts by both the government and the private sector to ensure their wellness through nutritional intervention. Towards this end, Pepsigla aims to make a difference by turning undernourished Filipino children into healthy and academically productive young citizens.