Gabay Nutrisyon: A showcase of healthy partnership between CDO Foodsphere and UNILAB

(The Philippine Star) - October 27, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - A nine year old partnership makes for an enduring arrangement. There has to be something in common with the parties to continue to work together in anything for that long a period. There has to be something good or worthwhile coming out of it. Not that it should, there simply must.

 Gabay Nutrition is an assistance arrangement that Unilab, through then Corporate Affairs Division and currently the External Affairs Group continues to undertake with Odyssey Foundation, the corporate social responsibility arm of food company CDO Foodsphere. The latter manufactures food products – the Bibbo and CDO Hotdog line, Highlands Corned Beef, and San Marino Corned Tuna among others, with an affordability and premium quality platform. They are currently number two in the processed meat industry and number one the industrial meat market, producing meat products for Jollibee, Shakey’s, among others.

 Odyssey Foundation sponsors a community-based 64 day supplemental feeding program for malnourished children of low-income and marginalized settlers initially in Valenzuela City, then later in various parts of Luzon. They provide once-a-day hot meals prepared by their employees when feasible or the local mother-parent or barangay nutrition volunteers in the community, Monday to Friday. A menu is prepared following Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) standards; the children beneficiaries are weighed and measured in height to monitor progress of the feeding. The target is to be able to assist in feeding the children until their ideal weight is achieved. This hopes to promote both the physical and mental well-being of the child, contributing to their full and total development.

 Supplemental feeding is the identified logical core-competence capability of the CDO-Foodsphere in as far as their product portfolio is leveraged. Company  founder Corazon D. Ong is also passionate about the business and their CSR initiative as she is a nutritionist and began building the company from a backyard meat processing activity to a multi-million corporation. Thus, their maxim: “We help Nurture life.”

 Unilab, for its part, provides vitamins to supplement the feeding initiative. In 2005, representatives from Odyssey Foundation paid a courtesy call to Unilab to solicit their support for the project. Considering the extensive line of children’s vitamins and the reputation for quality medicines, the foundation sought a donation for their program. The support continued as the latter proved both their capability and competence in managing the program and the attaining their targets. One good deed deserves another.

 The company also initially conducted pocket medical missions for the malnourished children to assess their condition prior to the implementation of the program. This wasdone through Unilab Consumer Health. Later in the course of project implementation, the initiative has received both approval and recognition by the local government; the local health department has pitched in to do its share in providing check-ups for children.

 Over the years, the program entitled Gabay Nutrition was implemented from Valenzuela to various towns in Bulacan and Pampanga, and recently in Malvar Batangas, serving more than 16,000 malnourished or underweight children, ages four to nine. Unilab’s vitamins support has followed them through all their project sites in various parts of Luzon, becoming a reliable partner in providing its support continually and consistently. A spoonful of Unilab vitamin was given to each child following every meal. It’s a spoonful of Tiki-tiki or Ceelin or Nutrilin, or not to be left out, Enervon Syrup.

 Over the years, the partnership arrangement had undertaken other activities as well. Unilab had a few years back referred them to becoming a member of the premiere association of progressive philantrophic corporations the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP), of which the company is a founding member. Recently, the Unilab also introduced its partner in earnest to implementing its feeding initiative with Gawad Kalinga (GK) communities in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City. The latter are incidentally Unilab-supported communities with funding from Unilab Active Health Run proceeds.

 Odyssey Foundation is also Unilab’s sponsor in the entry of the Bayanihan sa Kalusugan (BsK) program in Valenzuela City. The BsK is a health development initiative undertaken by Unilab to support barangay health centers in the urban centers and rural health units in the provinces through the building of capabilities of its personnel, whom in turn are expected to improve both health delivery performance and outcomes. The former provided funds for Unilab to establishcapability building initiatives for the Valenzuela City public doctors, nurses, midwives, and barangay health workers of the health centers. Unilab specifically brought in technical resource speakers through Unilab Medical Education Department (UMED) to facilitate the learning sessions at various levels.

 Currently, Unilab and Odyssey Foundation and the Valenzuela City Health Department areworking to develop and produce a Manual for Barangay Nutrition Workers and Volunteers which hopes to provide a reference material to instilling nutritional education, identifying causes and effects of malnutrition, establishing clinical and domestic monitoring tools that track children’s growth development; and providing community initiatives that promote nutritional well-being and food sufficiency. The latter is implemented by External Affairs Group in cooperation with Corporate IT (CIT).

 Clearly with all that has been said and done, the Unilab and CDO Foodsphere partnership has implemented quite a number of initiatives geared toward improving the lives of their beneficiaries. United in promoting the health and well-being primarily of children and lately maturing to supporting the health delivery services in their community, the arrangement has and continues to achieve its objectives, with considerable potential and prospects in the future. It’s a partnership for keeps.


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