Oh My Gulay! – Tanim sa Kinabukasan Program MOA Signing
Photo: OMG! Representative, Josie E. Paule; East – West Seed Foundation Corporate Secretary and Treasurer, Dr. Mary Ann P. Sayoc; Former Senator Edgardo J. Angara; DepEd Secretary Bro. Armin A. Luistro; Infant & Pediatric Nutrition Association of the Philippines Executive Director, Alex Castro; and GT Metro Foundation Inc. Assistant Executive Director, Irene Labitad. On Wednesday, 24 September 2014, the signing of OMG! – TSK Memorandum of Agreement was held at the DepEd Central Office in Pasig. This formalizes the third year of the program, aimed at solving malnutrition among public school children through a nationwide school gardening program that brings together efforts from the government and private sector. Oh My Gulay! (OMG!) – Tanim sa Kinabukasan (TSK) advocates the consumption of vegetables by teaching children how to grow common Filipino vegetables, while educating them about their nutritional value. The end goal is to address nutritional deficiencies among underprivileged children and make eating vegetables an enjoyable experience. The success of the campaign was made possible through the collaborative efforts between the office of Former Senator Edgardo J. Angara, Department of Education (DepEd) and East-West Seed Foundation, including company donors such as GT Metro Foundation Inc. and Infant & Pediatric Nutrition Association of the Philippines. “OMG! is as an extension of the school feeding program I launched back in 2001. This program is a proactive action to address the incessant problem of malnutrition in the country, especially with the young children who go to school. It makes me happy that we are continuously receiving numerous calls from people who’d like to support and adopt schools,” former Senator Angara shares. Since its inception, the advocacy has benefitted 186 public schools. Each school has 50 students who are directly involved in the school gardening. Around 1,500 students from Grades 4, 5 and 6 are indirect participants through the Technology and Livelihood Education (TLE) subject. In some schools, there is a component of a school feeding program has an average of 50 nutritionally challenged pupils from Grades 1 and 2. In terms of student participation, about 8,300 students have participated directly in the project and gained knowledge and skills on vegetable gardening; 249,000 students participated indirectly and gained awareness on the health benefits of vegetables and 8,300 pupils in the school feeding program have benefited from the project. Research shows that the Philippines has the lowest per capita consumption in Southeast Asia. OMG! – TSK tackles this issue by promoting backyard vegetable farming, encouraging the whole school community to consume their own harvest and creating awareness on the importance of vegetables in everyday diet. DepEd Secretary Bro. Armin Luistro noted, “The department assures its partners of our commitment and will do our very best to institutionalize this project. We hope that through OMG! – TSK, the adopted schools would learn not just the skills, but the business, science and art of vegetable farming.” OMG! – TSK has implemented the cluster approach wherein donors can adopt selected schools from nearby areas. This approach proves to be more effective, cost-efficient and creates greater impact. “I believe that the key to the success of this program is finding the right partners and I am grateful that the heads of our partner institutions are very passionate and dedicated to our cause. East – West Seed will be true to its promise of delivering high-yielding seeds that we hope would eventually supply the school feeding program,” Dr. Mary Ann Sayoc said. This school year, OMG! – TSK has adopted 20 schools in Metro Manila and is constantly looking for partner organizations to support the program.