Philippines

The Republic of the Philippines is located in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. It is an archipelago comprising more than 7,000 islands. Its location on the Pacific Ring of Fire and its tropical climate make the Philippines prone to earthquakes and typhoons. The population is more than 98 million people. An additional 12 million Filipinos live overseas.

The increasing average per capita consumption of rice in the Philippines over the past 30 years (from 308 g/day in 1978 up to 317 g/day in 2008), compared with the already low and steadily decreasing average per capita consumption rates for fruit (from 104 g/day in 1978 to 54 g/day in 2008) and vegetables (from 145 g/day in 1978 to 110 g/day in 2008) (FNRI, 2008) clearly shows that insufficient diets are an everyday fact of life for millions of Philippine children.

The Philippine Department of Education is now mandated to promote, protect and maintain the health and nutrition of school age children in public elementary and secondary schools nationwide. According to the 7th National Nutrition Survey Report (FNRI, 2008), 26 out of 100 preschool children are malnourished.

School gardens are one of the government programs initiated to counter this, but clear implementation guidelines and priority setting as regards the main purpose of school gardens (i.e. nutritional objectives versus economic or educational objectives) are still lacking. Over the years, school garden projects in the Philippines have been re-named, re-packaged and re-designed to meet current needs. However, sustainability is a challenge.

At present, 58% of 46,000 public elementary and secondary schools nationwide have functional school gardens. While the number of schools reached is a positive reflection on the willingness of the Government of the Philippines to embrace the need for better nutrition for children, strategies and interventions that would make school gardens adoptable by all schools and sustainable are necessary.