The National Nutrition Council (NNC), which coordinates the nationwide National Nutrition Month observance, sent a list of essential food items that people need to keep in stock during calamities.
Nutrition Month is being marked this year with the theme “Kalamidad Paghandaan: Gutom at Malnutrisyon Agapan (Prepare for emergencies to prevent hunger and malnutrition).”
The idea is to ensure that people get the essential nutrients, and to prevent worsening nutritional problems for those who are already mal- or under-nourished.
Many readers have probably seen the list before, but it helps to be reminded every now and then.
With “Henry” closely following on “Glenda’s” heels, more typhoons waiting in the wings, and the strong possibility of other calamities, natural or manmade affecting the country, it is wise to have this checklist prominently displayed, or in a place where it can be easily read or accessed.
NNC suggests storing at least three days’ supply of nonperishable and easy-to-prepare fortified food items. Choose foods that can be stored at room temperature and are lightweight. Make sure they are tightly sealed.
Here are the things NNC says you should stock on for emergencies:
Clean water stored in clean plastic bottles (there should be at least four liters per person per day—two liters for drinking and two for food preparation and cleaning)
Canned fish, meat, fruits and vegetables
Canned juice, milk for adults
Dried fish and fruits
High-energy foods like peanut butter, crackers, jelly
Comfort foods like biscuits, hard candy, instant cereal and coffee
Special foods for infants (to complement continued breastfeeding), elderly persons and people on diets
Of course, you also need disposable plates, cups and eating utensils. If there are very young children, have a feeding cup with cover, a food container with spoon and fork, and a one-liter glass tumbler with cover, among other things.
I asked NNC about the inclusion of cup or instant noodles—filling and easy to prepare, but leaving much to be desired in terms of nutritional content.
Jovita B. Raval, chief of the NNC Nutrition Information and Education Division, says cup noodles can be made more nutritious by adding vegetables to them.
Emergency or not, that is a practical solution, as cup noodles have replaced rice as a staple in many Filipino households. Leafy vegetables, in particular, do not need a lot of cooking and can be added to noodles after the cup is filled with hot water.
At the top of my list of vegetables that people can add to their noodles is malunggay. It is readily available all over the country and packed with nutrients. Even after “Glenda,” I saw malunggay trees still standing.
Other options are pechay and cabbage. The various regions may try adding their favorite vegetables, like saluyot in Ilocos. I do not think gabi (taro leaves), a favorite in my region, Bicol, will be suitable, but sili leaves may do.
Raval says NCC also advises people not to put all the flavor mix to reduce the noodles’ salt content, which can cause health problems.
“Nutrition in emergencies is important in order to prevent death… Population groups that are already malnourished even before the emergency are more vulnerable to illness and death during emergencies,” NNC says.
It points out that malnutrition, which remains a serious problem in the Philippines, can worsen during emergencies and disasters.
It advises people, “Be alert. Be prepared. Know what disasters may occur in your area. Keep an emergency food kit on hand. Check for designated evacuation centers in your community.”
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