This Good Practice Initiative was delivered by Ms. Eleonor B. Ayan, Municipal Social Welfare Development Officer (MSWDO) of Pasil, Kalinga during the Knowledge Management Expo 2023 held at the Lafaayette Suites, Baguio City from 27-30 November 2023. Half a decade before the creation of Child Development Centers (CDCs) by the Early Years Act of 2013, or R.A. No. 10410, and a decade before R.A. No. 11037 mandated that all Supplementary Feeding Programs (SFP) be implemented nationwide by Calendar Year 2022, a highland town in Kalinga was already focused at improving the health and well-being of children and their parents.
Pasil, in Kalinga province embarked on this remarkable goal in CY2009 when an Italian NGO was attracted by the municipality’s heirloom rice. Their visit gradually spawned the collective practice of Intum, the Slow Food Approach, which does away with artificial food flavorings, as well as junk and processed food products, and replacing the family diet with organic-based menus prepared using traditional recipes.
From a single practicing barangay, the Approach evolved into Municipal Ordinance No. 2016-06 that mandated Sustaining and Fostering Organic Agriculture for Health, Safety and Livelihood Purposes. This legal instrument mandated patronage for organic food in all barangays to include even to those that were served to visitors. DSWD has since integrated the Slow Food Approach in its implementation of its Supplementary Feeding Program (SFP), Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, Sustainable Livelihood Program (SLP), and KC- National Community-Driven Development Program (NCDDP) in the municipality.
The Slow Food Approach ensures that the meals provided by CDC’s to all children enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools are truly nutritious so as to enable the desired healthy physical activities envisioned by the government’s Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) program. Costing for these meals has been economical in the face of the rising prices of commodities, since they are prepared from home-grown organic produce. The limited budget for supplementary feeding can then be stretched to cover the growing number of child clients.
Widespread adoption of the practice was achieved through methods, such as teaching children in schools about the benefits of organic diet to minimize their consumption of junk and processed food; orienting the Child Development Workers (CDWs) so they could orient parents; and, in making the Slow Food Approach a regular discussion topic during Parent Effectiveness Sessions (PES) or Family Development Session (FDS). As a result, the Municipality’s 9-year data on the implementation of the Supplementary Feeding Program using the Slow Food Approach, shows a pattern of decreasing incidence of underweight children from an average of 58% between CY2011-2014 to 91% between CY2015-2020.
Aside from sustaining fulfillment of the goals of the Supplementary Feeding Program, other unforeseen positive effects have also emerged. These include revival of traditional food preparation practices and recipes; re-birth of pottery cottage industries, as food prepared using earthen ware bring out the best flavors; and, protection of environmental health through organic farming. Utilization and care of Endemic and Indigenous Plants and Animals are also contributing to the municipality’s climate change response. Pasil’s participation as the Philippine Flag Bearer during the Slow Food International Festival in Turin, Italy in CY2019, had also given birth to its annual tourism event, the February Slow Food Month Celebration, where local goods and products are promoted.