To promote nutrition among Filipino children, the Department of Education (DepEd) in collaboration with the Technical Education and Skills Development Association (TESDA), initiated the “Get Your Gulay On: Grand Gulay Cook-Off Challenge”, a contest that aims to encourage innovation in making healthy snacks made of vegetables from the Gulayan sa Paaralan Program in public schools.
“Ang gusto po naming gawin ngayong umaga ay ipakalat ang pagkain ng gulay sa mga kabataan at siguraduhin na kakain sila ng mga masusustansyang pagkain. Gusto rin nating gamitin ang mga gulay na tinanim natin sa mga paaralan bilang sangkap sa mga lulutuing pagkain,” said Education Secretary Br. Armin Luistro FSC. He emphasized the importance of proper nutrition in improving the performance of students in school.
Participants from TESDA training institutes prepared nutritious vegetable dishes for some 100 elementary students from Taguig and Pasay Cities invited as judges. Part of the criteria requires that the ingredients must not contain monosodium glutamate (MSG) – ready-made breading, soup stocks, liquid seasoning.
TESDA Director-General Secretary Joel J. Villanueva explained that the program promotes the talents of TESDA cookery graduates, while helping develop nutritious recipes for students. “It is important that we not only provide nutritious meals to help our students Go, Grow, and Glow but also to give them the opportunity to be transformed—to transform their community, and even transform our beloved country,” he said.
Gulayan Cook-off winner Helen L. De Guzman of STI Computer College of Parañaque, Inc., coached by Rosela P. Ongkeko, garnered the most votes from the students for her “Kalalunggay Tart” recipe, with kalabasa and malunggay as the main ingredients. Their recipe will be verified by TESDA for nutritional benefits and may be included in the menu of public school canteens as snacks.
The two secretaries, pleased with the outcome of the launch, eyed a nationwide event for the coming months. “Because of the success of this pilot program, we plan to go around the country, one region per month come 2015,” said Luistro. He also shared that both DepEd and TESDA will “collect the recipes of the food made and post them on the website so that parents and teachers may be encouraged to eat more nutritious meals.”
Luistro then urged the participants to continue supporting the Gulayan sa Paaralan Program by DepEd. “Sana po maging inspirasyon itong programang ito para sa mga magulang, sa mga guro, at sa ating mga school canteen na gamitin ang mga gulay na itinatanim sa ating Gulayan,” he said.
As part of the directive by the President through Executive Order No. 26 entitled the Implementation of the National Greening Program, the Gulayan sa Paaralan Program was formed as a task force for all public schools to “establish vegetable gardens to serve as food basket and a main source of commodities to sustain supplementary feeding.”