By MARK FRANCISCO, Staff Writer
MORE than 12,000 children enrolled in public schools in Cagayan de Oro City are malnourished.
Mary Ann Allera of the Cagayan de Oro City Schools Division disclosed this Tuesday in the Gawad Kalinga-initiated End Hunger Summit held at Xavier University, prompting Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV to urge city councilors to pass a resolutions or ordinances institutionalizing a city-wide feeding program.
Allera said the figure represents 12 percent of the total population of students enrolled in the 107 public elementary schools in the city which is around 98,000.
Aquino, who was guest speaker in the one-day event, said highly urbanized cities like Cagayan de Oro are more prone to hunger than less urbanized ones because of the steep migration rate from rural areas.
The program, which was also joined by Mayor Oscar Moreno before he went for an official trip to Thailand, was also a means to institutionalize Gawad Kalinga’s Kusina ng Kalinga and integrate it into a planned city-wide feeding program.
Today, Kusina ng Kalinga maintains only 17 kitchens nationwide so far, one of which is located in PN Roa Elementary School in Cagayan de Oro City. The non-government organization plans to erect 20 more kitchens within 2018, according to Gawad Kalinga executive director Luis Oquiñena.
For the existing Kusina in Cagayan de Oro, Oquiñena is exploring means on how to make it a city-wide feeding program.
At the PN Roa Elementary School Kusina ng Kallinga, cooks and an in-house nutritionist prepare daily lunch meals for the children, supplementing the government’s own school-based feeding program. The PN Roa-based Kusina is a hub feeding also the schoolchildren from the nearby barangays of Pagatpat, Iponan, Bulua, Macasandig, Taguanao, Indahag, Camaman-an and Nazareth.
Oquiñena welcomed Aquino’s proposal for local-based legislation, saying the expansion of Kusina ng Kalinga to cover all public elementary schools in the city will accomplish its aim “to end hunger among Filipino children.”
“We believe that this summit is a stepping stone for future legislation. Kusina ng Kalinga’s simple intervention as one nutritious meal a day can directly affect a child’s capacity to learn more, do more and be more,” Aquino said.
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