CSPPS Policy Seminar Tackles Policy Responses on Food Security and Nutrition During COVID-19

The Center for Strategic Planning and Policy Studies (CSPPS) of the College of Public Affairs and Development (CPAf) conducted a policy seminar titled, “Keeping Colour on the Plate: A Policy Review for the Philippines. A project of the World Vegetable Center” on 25 April 2024 at CPAf Rooms 303 and 304.

The guest speaker, Philippine Stakeholders Nutrition and Dietetics, Inc. President Ma. Cristina Sison talked about her work in understanding the impacts of COVID-19 policy responses on malnutrition in the Philippines and shared ways to mitigate the negative impacts of the pandemic on dietary quality to create a more resilient food system. 

CPAf Dean Aileen V. Lapitan, delivered the opening remarks, sharing her eagerness to know more about transforming the knowledge from research into policy-relevant information and messages. Lapitan also highlighted the crucial role of addressing nutrition in achieving other Sustainable Development Goals. 

In her presentation, Sison pointed out the low vegetable and fruit consumption of Filipinos, which is below the World Health Organization’s recommended 400 grams per day. She shared that Filipinos choose to spend their limited budget on staple foods like rice and eggs due to the high cost of fruits and vegetables. “When we say keeping color on the plate, we envision that we should have more fruits and vegetables”, Sison said.

Sison further delved on how restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic made prevailing issues on malnutrition and food security even more evident. She cited examples such as curfew restrictions affecting farmers’ work, underemployment, delay in transport and delivery of fresh produce, and limited program implementation (e.g. feeding programs).

Concerns on nutrition not being considered as priority in most programs and policies in the Philippines were reiterated during the seminar. Discussions shed light on the role local governments play in nutrition interventions, urging for a more comprehensive implementation of programs that include monitoring, accountability, and transparency. According to Sison, their role in implementing and managing nutrition programs will grow even more crucial with the Mandanas-Garcia Ruling. “Research and scientific methods will always be the foundation of sound policies. Multisectoral coordination in all levels of government will be critically important”, Sison further highlighted. 

After the talk, CSPPS University Researcher Hadji Jalotjot, served as discussant. He emphasized using innovative tools such as foresight and futures thinking to guide the country towards its preferred future of food and nutrition. “It will help us anticipate and prepare for future disruptions and also to enable us to maximize the opportunities”, Jalotjot added.

The open forum provided insights on improving fruit and vegetable consumption, citing ways such as increasing production and creating a demand for healthy diets. ​However, it was also mentioned that changing dietary habits and behaviors will take time and effort. On the bright side, the speakers recommended crop diversification, listening to experts, and employing a whole of government approach could help in achieving food security.

The seminar concluded with the CSPPS OIC-Director Nelson Jose Vincent B. Querijero’s closing remarks, reminding the CPAf community to improve stakeholder engagement and employ rigorous policy evaluation in navigating complex challenges like malnutrition.

This policy seminar is one of the pre-event activities for the 50th Anniversary Celebration of CSPPS in June 2024. Visit the CPAf Facebook page to know more about the upcoming activities of CSPPS.

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