Drive for “Healthy Baon for Healthy Kids” Gains Ground in QC School (“Healthy Baon” contributes to waste reduction too, says group)

To commemorate this year’s Nutrition Month, an environmental watch group has teamed up with a public school to campaign for nutritious and waste-free snacks and lunches.

Through a joint activity held today, the EcoWaste Coalition and the Sto. Cristo Elementary School (Quezon City) promoted healthy meals that can help students go, grow and glow without denting the family budget.

With a banner that says "Nutritious Food, Healthy Kids, Zero Waste School" as backdrop, teachers and environmentalists drew attention to nourishing food and beverage choices in line with a recently-issued policy by the Department of Education (DepEd).

“Healthy diets at home and school will help our nation in curbing the number of overweight and obese among kids and adults, as well as preventing non-communicable diseases.  It will also help in reducing the volume of garbage knowing that unhealthy foods are mostly packaged in plastic and other single-use materials, which are hardly recycled or reused,” stated Daniel Alejandre, Zero Waste Campaigner, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Our activity, we hope, will encourage schools to regulate the sale of foods and drinks in school canteens, while encouraging parents and their kids to go for healthy and waste-free baon that are low in fat, sugar or salt,” he added.

The group said that five percent of Filipino children (aged five to 10) and 31 percent of adults (aged 20 and above) are overweight and obese, while the national waste generation is estimated at 40,087 tons per day as per data from the Food Nutrition and Research Institute and the National Solid Waste Management Commission.

To hammer home their advocacy for healthy diets, SCES teachers prepared brown rice-based baon ideas such as pancakes, spring rolls, champorado bar, croquetas, spaghetti, and vegetable-rich viands such as malunggay-veggie mix, malunggay veggie patties, pinakbet, and dilis and kangkong embutido.   

Kitchen discards such as vegetable and fruit peelings were then brought to the school’s composting pit.

Also, the event saw students reciting the “10 Kumainments,” the popular version of the revised Nutritional Guidelines for Filipinos (NGF).

According to the National Nutrition Council, “a healthy diet is able to satisfy one’s energy and nutrient needs for proper body functions, growth and development, daily activities and maintenance of health, keeping well within one’s caloric needs.”

On the other hand, “an unhealthy diet is composed of foods that are energy-dense yet nutrient poor and are high in saturated fats, trans fats, refined carbohydrates or sodium,” stated the NCC, the lead organizer for the Nutrition Month.  

DepEd Department Order No. 13, Series of 2017 provides for the “Policy and Guidelines on Healthy Food and Beverage Choices in Schools and in DepEd Offices” by making available healthy, nutritious and affordable menu choices, and for setting food standards.

It identifies healthier food and beverage choices and introduces a system of categorizing locally available foods and drinks in green, yellow and red categories.

Items included in the green category should always be available in school canteens; those in the yellow category should be served carefully; and those in the red cateogry are not recommended in canteen menu.

Foods and drinks in the green category include unsweetened milk, safe and clean water, fresh buko water, rice, corn, whole wheat bread, cassava, boiled sweet potato, boiled saba, boiled peanuts, suman, puto, fishes, shellfish, small shrimps, lean meats, chicken without skin, nuts, eggs and fresh fruits in season.

Foods and drinks in the yellow category include 100% fresh fruit juices, fried rice, bread, biscuits, banana cue, camote cue, turon, maruya, pancakes, waffles, champorado, pancit, arroz caldo, sandwiches, processed foods (subject to evaluation of saturated or trans fat and sodium content), stir-fried vegetables       

Foods and drinks in the red category include soft drinks, alcoholic drinks, sports waters, sports drinks, flavored mineral water, energy drinks, sweetened waters, powdered juice drinks, any products containing caffeine, any processed fruit/vegetable juice with added sugar of more than 20 grams or 4 teaspoons per serving, any jelly, ice crushes and slushies, any ice cream, ice drops and ice candies, cakes and slices, donuts, sweet biscuits and pastries, chocolates, hard/chewy candies, chewing gums, marshmallows, lollipops, yema, French fries, bicho-bicho, instant noodles, all types of heavily salted snacks such as chips or chichiria, chicharon, chicken skin, bacon, deep-friend foods including fish balls and kikiams, canned fruits in heavy syrup, sweetened fruits, deep-fried vegetables.