IT’S easy for some of us to take sardines for granted, but for many, a can of sardines is the only thing keeping them away from sure hunger.
Mega Global Corp., the company behind Mega Sardines and Mega Tuna, is once again holding its give-back program, Mega Bigay Sustansya, now on its third year. They are doing this with the cooperation of the Mega Tiu Lim Foundation (bearing the name of the Mega Global family) and Reach Out Feed Philippines, which will prepare and deliver meals house to house, as well as provide a nutritional assessment of all recipes used in the program, and also analyze and evaluate the results of the program.
Dawn Cabigon, founder and director of Reach Out Feed Philippines gave a figure related to hunger and malnutrition, which should raise some alarm. “What we know is that it is up by 20% from 2019,” she said, citing data from the Social Weather Stations (SWS) collected from the end of 2020. “A 20% increase in involuntary hunger [means] people even then who have access to food now do not have access to food, even [more] so nutritious food.”
The feeding program, expanding out of Luzon, aims to support 870 children from various barangays across six areas through a 60-day nutrition program. These areas are Batangas, Navotas, Valenzuela, Samar, Surigao del Sur, and Zamboanga. Beneficiaries are children aged four to 12 years old, who will receive two nutritious meals daily for 60 days. “We want to intervene, especially since we are catering to kids ages four to 12 years old. This is a very crucial time in their development,” said Ms. Cabigon during a Zoom press conference on July 29. “Even if you say this is just a simple feeding program, this will have life-changing effects and long-term effects on the lives of these kids and their future.”
Speaking about the areas in which they will serve, Marvin Tiu Lim, Chief Growth and Development Officer for Mega Global Corp. said, “There are so many communities in need throughout the country, so we can’t help all at once. We really decided to make sure that the communities where we are present… around our plants, around where we are — are first being served.” He hopes that, “In the next few years, we’ll expand even more throughout the country.”
At the beginning and end of the program, the weight, height, and mid-arm circumference of the children will be measured to gauge their progress. To encourage parents to support the nutrition program for their children, Mega Global will provide incentives to select participants who fit the program’s criteria — biggest gainer, most improved, and other categories. To further ensure that the progress made is sustained, Mega Global will also be developing leave-behind materials containing affordable nutritious recipes made from ingredients that are easily accessible to the families. At present, Ms. Cabigon shares that the kids and parents like the lumpiang sardinas (sardine spring rolls), sardines with misua (sardines in a noodle soup), and sardines with ampalaya (sardines sauted with bitter gourd)
But how nutritious are sardines anyway? Mr. Tiu Lim was very proud to answer. “Aside from Omega-3, many of you might not know that sardines have a lot of calcium and protein in it,” he said. “There are so many nutrients, because it’s all fresh.” He reminded people that their product costs about P18-P19 a can.
“It’s a very, very nutritious product at a very, very good price.” — Joseph L. Garcia