Fresh vegetables from one’s own yard best for children’s health
CEBU — Xian, 4, was left in his grandmother Edith’s care. Near tall buildings and populated streets, the child lives in a humble home surrounded with green plants and fruit trees.
“We live here with his father—my son, but he is working so I’m the one who’s looking after my grandchild and his two other siblings,” says Edith.
According to Edith, Xian’s father used to work at a call center, but when the pandemic happened, the child’s father was one of the employees who lost his job. “It was really tough, so I’m really grateful that our family became part of the program,” she says.
Edith was referring to FORWARD, a backyard gardening that complements World Vision’s health and nutrition intervention in Cebu. The program, implemented in partnership with Ramon Aboitiz Foundation Inc. (RAFI), aims to give families a sustainable food source and ease the problem of food scarcity, especially during the height of the pandemic, through vegetable gardening.
She shares that even before the pandemic, life was already challenging. She would divide one canned good for the whole family in one meal including her other son who lives with them. They also usually just eat instant foods.
“We still do, but this time, we mix it with vegetables fresh from our front yard,” she adds.
Participating families of the program received gardening tools including seeds so they can start their homegrown produce and feed their children with nutritious food. Xian, for one, who used to be malnourished, has now gained a healthy weight throughout.
“He was also enrolled in the nutrition classes of the project and was provided with vitamin supplements. We also received sacks of rice which helped a lot because we got to spend less money on food,” says Edith.
The project mainly aims to have children healthy and well-nourished through sustainable interventions involving their families. In coordination with their town’s community workers, participating families were constantly visited and checked as to how their urban gardening was going.
Families were also taught food production techniques so they could market their own produce and earn extra income.