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Tech-enhanced “Nutribun” set to roll out in the Philippines

The Philippine Department of Education (DepEd) Division of Negros Oriental is exploring a partnership with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and a DOST-assisted private firm for the inclusion of the Enhanced Nutribun (E-Nutribun) in their school-based feeding program.

DepEd Senior Education Program Specialist (SEPS) for Linkages and Partnerships lauded the DOST provincial office for promoting the E-Nutribun to various sectors in the country, noting this would help the agency in addressing the problem of malnutrition among school children. DepEd said that it continues to provide nutrition interventions to school children, but some modifications were made to cater to the current situation brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

From the usual hot meals to rationed food products, the mode of delivery is changed from school-based administration of actual feeding to delivery to the homes especially during the distribution of modules. Parents pick up their learning modules along with nutritious food products in the school-based feeding program.

Some of the food commodities DepEd extends to learners include fortified enriched bread, fruits in season, blended Nutri-packs, and fresh milk. Out of the 185,417 enrolees for the school year 2020 to 2021, some 5,948 learners are severely wasted, 12,593 are wasted, 7,602 are severely stunted, 22,408 are stunted, while 2,380 are overweight and 733 are experiencing obesity.

DepEd noted that the E-Nutribun which was presented by the DOST can be part of the fortified enriched bread they give to learners. The Department of Science and Technology’s Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST–FNRI) developed the “Enhanced Nutribun” and is literally “in the oven” of 76 technology adopters registered by the government, and as a result of their aggressive information drive and technology transfer training.

They said that the E-Nutribun, which was developed with the assistance of various food tech companies, is different from the earlier version of the Nutribun distributed during the ’70s. It was developed considering the nutrient requirements of children.

They added natural colour and flavour and it is now softer in texture and contains Vitamin A. Like the old Nutribun “Naa Siya”, it has 500-kilo calories and 17 grams of protein but has zero trans-fat and no cholesterol. The E-Nutribun also contains iron and other micronutrients. They confirmed that this is not only good for young children, but also for pregnant and lactating women and seniors, said the agency.

The development of the E-Nutribun is in response to the call of the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s (DSWD) Memorandum Circular No. 12 s. 2020 and the Nutrition Cluster Advisory No. 2 s. 2020 of the National Nutrition Council (NNC) which recommend the provision of healthy and nutritious family food packs and sustainable food source during community quarantine and set the guidelines for feeding program during the pandemic period.

DOST said that the NNC advisory also encourages local government units (LGU’s) to use DOST-FNRI-developed products for their supplemental feeding program. DOST is hoping LGU’s and other agencies will be utilised in feeding programs this time.

For now, the E-Nutribun is available on a “per order” basis from a private food manufacturer which was granted the sole license to produce E-Nutribun in Negros Oriental after passing the standards set by the DOST-FNRI for local firms who would like to avail of the technology.

DOST-FNRI mentioned that interested adopters of the latest tech may send a letter of request, then a consultative meeting shall be facilitated with documents ready to include company profile, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Certificate of Registration of Business Name, Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) Registration, or Mayor’s Permit to Operate a Business.

Accordingly, due to the negative economical effects brought by COVID-19, the technical know-how will be shared for free to qualified potential adopters.

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