BIG approach

The BIG approach (Figure 4.3) was adapted to address sustainability challenges faced by schools, nutrition needs, and climate-related challenges. The different practices were translated into school gardening standards to serve as an implementation guide. BIG, a climate- and nutrition-smart garden, is an agroecological approach to gardening that makes the best use of available natural resources and does not rely on external chemical inputs (IIRR, 2017). Deep-dug and raised beds are presented as climate-smart garden beds due to their ability to respond to prolonged drought and anticipated prolonged rainy days. In these types of beds, water is stored for longer periods of time and water drains better during heavy rains. The presence of

Integrated school nutrition model. Sourer. IIRR, FNRI-DOST and DepEd. 2018

FIGURE 4.2 Integrated school nutrition model. Sourer. IIRR, FNRI-DOST and DepEd. 2018.

An example of a bio-intensive garden. Source

FIGURE 4.3 An example of a bio-intensive garden. Source: IIRR.

fertilizer trees planted around the garden allows schools to have continuous access to organic material that is crucial in maintaining overall soil health whilst protecting gardens from adverse effects of strong winds brought by typhoons.

With the planting of trees, microclimates are manipulated (i.e. low soil and air temperatures) creating garden ecosystems that are more conducive to crop growth, even with rising temperatures. Cooler garden environments also present a more favourable space to work in for schoolchildren, teachers, and parents. Elaborated through the BIG approach is the role of continuous application of organic matter complemented by soil and water conservation practices such as regular use of green manure, mulching and cover cropping in enriching biological life and in reducing soil temperature. The green manuring practices reduce soil temperature while the deep placement of organic matter reduces its rapid decomposition. The organic matter helps store moisture for dry spells. IIRR also promotes drought tolerant crop varieties through BIG and has undertaken extensive searches for local drought-resistant indigenous materials for use in school gardens. In order to reduce risks of failure due to drought or rain, the BIG guidelines recommend that two thirds of the crops in the school garden should be indigenous.

With prolonged dry seasons being experienced, installation of rainwater harvesting was also encouraged. Intra-species diversity was also encouraged to allow selection of hardy varieties that adapt well within the local context. Liquid fertilizer’s contribution to boosting hardiness of seedlings was also supported.

In Phase 1, the approach was translated into BIG standards for schools which outline practices and principles. In phase 2, the garden standard was enhanced by elaborating concepts of climate and nutrient smart gardens, nutrition-sensitive agriculture and its link to school feeding, and the value of school gardens as learning laboratories. A simple crop-planning tool that takes into consideration feeding centre requirements was developed and introduced to schools.

Supplementary feeding with iron-fortified rice and indigenous vegetables

For supplementary feeding, DepEd’s implementation guideline was enhanced by integrating concepts and principles learned in Phase 1 of the programme. The promotion of iron-fortified rice and the 15 recipes with indigenous vegetables (Figure 4.4) were supplemented by development of iron-rich recipes for areas or cases where iron-fortified rice is not available (e.g. no delivery because of floods, typhoons, etc.).

Nutrition education for children and their parents

Nutrition education for children includes use of nutrition-sensitive lesson plans, use of the school garden as a learning laboratory, and use of the ‘nutri school- home connection’ approach where projects assigned to students require application at home. Nutrition education for the community or parents includes nutrition education sessions during parent-teacher association meetings, participatory activities such as cooking demonstrations or recipe development during the nutrition awareness month, and use of information, education, and communication materials (Figure 4.5). Different forms of information, education, and communication materials were developed to promote key nutrition and gardening messages. Teachers were provided with simplified reference materials

Photo of recipes with indigenous vegetables. Sourer. FNRI-DOST

FIGURE 4.4 Photo of recipes with indigenous vegetables. Sourer. FNRI-DOST.

Photo of a nutrition education activity in a school

FIGURE 4.5 Photo of a nutrition education activity in a school.

Source: IIRR.

(nutrition modules) and teaching aids to help them better incorporate nutrition topics into their daily lesson plans and to facilitate short sessions with parents during their regular parent-teacher meetings.

Research results and outcomes

The following are the results as presented in the final research report from the project. The first part describes the different ways to enhance the link between the three components of school nutrition programme - school garden, school feeding, and nutrition education. The second part presents the results of interventions.

Mechanisms to enhance integration of components

School garden - school feeding link

The research identified the following conditions and mechanisms that contributed to improving the link between school gardens and school feeding:

  • • Familiarization of the feeding cycle menu by garden coordinators allowed them to plan accordingly
  • • Year-round garden diversity
  • • Incorporation of the recommended recipes with indigenous vegetables into the 20-day cycle menu of schools
  • • Effective coordination by the garden coordinator and the school feeding coordinator
  • • Sustained technical support from the division school health personnel

Utilization of garden produce in the feeding programme was recorded in 56 schools. In the 21 lighthouse schools with complete data, 42% of the total garden produce was used in the feeding programme, 24% was distributed for free to parent volunteers, students, and teachers who helped out in garden activities, 17% was given to the school canteen, and 17% was sold.

In the three sentinel schools with intensive coaching and mentoring and detailed documentation, higher utilization of garden produce was observed as compared to the rest of the 55 lighthouse schools. School 1 (Julugan Elementary School) used at least 82% of the harvest in feeding programmes, with leafy vegetables (71%) contributing the most. School 2 (Sunny Brooke Elementary School) used 66% of the garden produce in the feeding programme, which are also mostly leafy vegetables (41%). School 3 (Tinabunan Elementary School) was able to use 54% in the feeding programme wherein 26% were leafy vegetables and 22% were fruit-bearing vegetables.

When schools grow vegetables in their gardens and when menus feature diverse vegetables, schools can reduce the cost of feeding. Savings accumulate over a typical feeding cycle. Tables 4.1 and 4.2 show the savings that were generated by schools with the use of garden produce within 120 days (Php 56.92/USD 1.14) and 200 days (PhP 126.48/ USD 2.53) respectively.

TABLE 4.1 Savings on expenses in a 120-day feeding cycle in sentinel schools

School

Total no. of beneficiaries

Total cost (PUP)

(no. of beneficiaries x 16.00 x 120 days)

Peso value of garden produce used to SBFP (PhP)

Savings per student in 120 feeding days (PhP)

JES

278

533,760.00

18,398.63

66.18

SBES

769

1,476,480.00

20,578.02

26.76

TES

131

251,520.00

10,194.88

77.82

Average

393

56.92

Source: IIRR, FNRI-DOST, and DepEd, 2018.

TABLE 4.2 Savings on expenses in a 200-day feeding cycle in sentinel schools

School

Total no. of beneficiaries

SBFP total food cost for 120-day feeding (PhP)

(a x PhP16 x 200 days)

Peso value of garden produce used in SBFP (PhP)

Savings per student in 200-days feeding (PhP) (c/a)

JES

278

889,600.00

35,127.63

126.36

SBES

769

2,460,800.00

36,389.64

47.32

TES

131

419,200.00

26,953.57

205.75

Average

393

126.48

Source: IIRR, FNRI-DOST. and DepEd, 2018.

TABLE 4.3 Total number of children that can benefit from the garden produce shared to SBFP in the three sentinel schools

School

Total vegetables needed in recipe per child in 120- day feeding (kg)

Total Carden Produce within 120-day feeding period (kg)

Total garden produce used in SBFP recipe (kg)

Percentage of garden produce used in SBFP (c/b)

Estimated number of beneficiaries (da)

JES

7.72

388.47

294.18

75.7

38

SBES

8.94

580.59

349.25

60.1

39

TES

8.82

412.69

168.87

40.9

19

Average

8.50

270.76

58.8

32

Source: IIRR. FNRI-DOST, and DepEd, 2018.

Table 4.3 shows the number of children that can benefit from a 200-square meter garden. On average, 32 students are estimated to be served with a vegetable meal in 120 days considering that about 270 kilograms of various vegetables are produced in the school garden.

On the use of iron-fortified rice, consultation meetings with retailers and at least 10 school administrators revealed that scaling up of iron-fortified rice within the school setting requires strong partnership (and engagement) with local businesses and local government units. Each school has their own supplier; thus, iron-fortified rice should be made available to these suppliers via local rice distributors. Rice varieties that are acceptable among children in terms of aroma and texture must also be considered to avoid plate waste among school feeding beneficiaries (as observed in schools).

School garden - education link

Use of gardens for school learning is strengthened if the following conditions are met:

  • • Gardens are functional all year round. Year-round availability of vegetables in the garden can be achieved with cultivation of diverse crops combining both annuals and perennials and drought and pest/disease tolerant crops.
  • • There is availability of information, education, and communication materials about BIG practices and indigenous vegetables within the garden.
  • • Garden visits as a class activity or methodology are incorporated into the lesson plans of teachers.
  • • There is continuous monitoring and technical support from school administrators and division level supervisors.

Fifty-two schools were able to utilize school gardens in other learning areas aside from agriculture. In the 36 schools with complete data, the garden was mostly used in the following areas - Science (Grades 4-6), EsP - Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao or

Values Education (Grades 1-6), Mathematics (Grades 1-6), and Meeting time 2 (Kindergarten) where children are gathered by the teacher as a whole group. Few schools reported to have used the garden in Social Science, English, Filipino, Mother Tongue (language used within the locality), and other minor subjects. On a wider scale, institutionalization and sustainability can be achieved if use of the school garden is incorporated in the DepEd curriculum guide.

Nutrition education - school feeding link

Feeding centres can be used as venue to conduct creative nutrition education activities. Food served can be a medium to discuss food value and functions, which reinforces the actual feeding that happens. The following are the facilitating factors identified:

  • • Inclusion of nutrition education in the SBFP guidelines
  • • Provision of nutrition education modules to grade level coordinators and SBFP coordinators
  • • Capacity building of SBFP coordinators
  • • Availability of ready-to-use materials such as flash cards, posters, and flipcharts
  • • Inclusion of nutrition sessions during parent-teacher meetings and conferences
  • • Technical assistance and follow up

Of the 58 lighthouse schools, 44 were able to continuously deliver nutrition education during feeding activities via lectures, teacher demonstrations, games, audio-visual presentations, cooking demonstrations, nutrition quiz, peer teaching, puzzles, cooking festivals, and garden tours. Different nutrition education modalities improved the knowledge of children and parents, which resulted in no plate waste among school- children, thereby increasing vegetable consumption. The nutrition education activities have also built a sense of cooperation among parents to help in the feeding activities and in maintaining the vegetable gardens as observed in schools.

Outcomes

Improvement in soil quality in school gardens

BIG techniques help regenerate the soil and replenish its capacity to grow healthy crops. Two years after the introduction of BIG, soils were tested in the three sentinel research schools. Two types of soil samples were collected and analyzed: (1) soil collected from sites without intervention; and (2) soil collected from sites where BIG practices were used. Table 4.4 provides evidence of the improvement in soil fertility status (availability of essential soil nutrients) in soils. The implications of these changes are important. For example, a decrease in soil pH from 7.6 to 7.2 can be expected to result in improved availability of most essential elements (N, P, K, Ca, and Mg) needed for growing vegetables. However, especially significant were the high amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and organic matter in gardens that

TABLE 4.4 Results of soil analysis in the three sentinel schools

Non-bio-intcnsive garden area

Bio-intensive garden area

JES

TES

SBES

JES

TES

SBES

Soil pH

7.6

7.6

7.8

7.2

7.2

7.5

Nitrogen (N)

Low

Low

Low

High

High

High

Phosphorus (P)

Medium

Medium

Low

High

High

High

Potassium (K)

Sufficient

Sufficient

Sufficient

Sufficient

Sufficient

Sufficient

Organic matter (OM), %

1.56

1.37

0.92

2.23

5.68

1.46

Calcium (Ca) cmo|c/kg soil

21.19

15.75

17.25

15.41

16.31

18.02

Magnesium (Mg) cmo|c/ kg soil

15.41

4.5

5.17

5.62

6.14

2.2

Source: IIRR. FNRI-DOST, and DepEd, 2018.

employed BIG practices. The use of climate- and nutrient-smart practices, that is, application of organic matter and fertilization (compost and liquid fertilizer), cover cropping, crop rotation, green manuring, mulching, and crop diversification, has contributed to overall improvement of soil nutritional status and health.

Diversification of school gardens and conservation of indigenous vegetables

Garden diversity was identified as one of the factors that influenced garden functionality and sustainability. Continuous and intensive promotion of indigenous vegetables and substantial distribution efforts contributed to achieving garden diversity. Different types of vegetables such as leafy, fruit-bearing, legumes, root crops, fruit trees, and herbs were grown in schools. After the intervention, an average of 26 crops was recorded in the 58 schools. Crop diversification led to availability of different types of vegetables with varied nutrients and provided teachers the flexibility in the choice of ingredients. A small number of schools reported having difficulty achieving crop diversity (10%) all year round due to seed saving and seedling propagation challenges. One of the mechanisms introduced and being practiced in the model is the yearly seed exchange among schools within a district or province to address such challenges.

Improvement in the nutrition status of undernourished children

DepEd’s regular feeding programme runs for 120 days from July to December of every school year. A 20-day menu was developed combining recipes developed by the project and Moringa-based recipes from DepEd. Iron-fortified rice was used in the three sentinel schools and was procured directly from Nutridense, a private company that partnered with FNRI-DOST to produce and distribute iron-fortified rice. The following are the results of the 120-day feeding and the additional 80-day feeding as presented in the final research report:

Benefits gained from the 120 feeding days:

  • • There was a significant increase in the mean weight (p-value=0.000) and height (p-value=0.000) of children both male and females.
  • • The increment in the mean height of the male students aged 5 to 10-year olds (y.o.) from baseline to midline (after 5 months with only 60 feeding days) was 1.99 cm while for females 2.05 cm. These increments are lower than the normal increase of 2.21 cm for males and 2.48 cm for females of the same age group. However, the increment from midline to endpoint (after another 3 months with 60 feeding days) was 1.51 cm (males) and 1.70 cm (females), which are higher compared to the normal increase of 1.32 cm and 1.51 cm, respectively. The same result was observed in the female students aged 10.1 to 19 years, the increment (1.83) was higher compared to the normal increase of 1.46 cm. However, the increment in the mean height of the male students from midline to end point is similar (1.68 cm) compared to the normal increase of 1.69 cm.
  • • There was a significant decrease in the proportion of undernourished students aged 5.1-10 and 10.1-19 y.o. from baseline (100%) to end point (65%).

Improved use of gardens for learning and sharing nutrition and environment information

Gardens have the potential to serve as focal points for learning and education in relation to science, environment, health, nutrition, and food education. The integration of garden visits into different learning or subject areas, especially in Edukasyottg Pantahanan at Pangkabuhayan (EPP) or Home Economics and Livelihood and Science for demonstration (50%), was taken on for the reason that gardens are functional year-round (33%) and because school heads had encouraged the use of gardens as venues for learning (7%) (Table 4.5).

Table 4.6 shows the different learning areas where garden visitation was integrated in the 36 lighthouse schools with complete records for school year 2016-2017. EPP (100%), Science (100%) and Edukasyott sa Pagpapakatao or Values education (94%) are the regular subjects that use gardens as demonstration and learning venues. This additional role of gardens is considered a significant finding.

TABLE 4.5 Garden use as platform for learning and sharing nutrition and environment information in 58 lighthouse schools

No. of schools

%

N = 58

Schools using garden as learning laboratory

52

89.66

Schools NOT using garden as learning laboratory

6

10.34

TOTAL

58

100.00

Source: IIRR, FNRI-DOST. and DepEd. 2018.

TABLE 4.6 Integration of garden visitation in different learning areas of 36 lighthouse schools for SY 2016-2017

Learning area

Crade

level

Schools with garden visits integrated

No. of schools

%

Edukasyon

4-6

31

100.00

Science

3-6

31

100.00

EsP or Values Education

1 -6

29

93.55

Mathematics

1 -6

12

38.71

Meeting time 2

Kinder

12

38.71

Araling Panlipunan or Social Studies/HEKASI/ Agham/MAPEl I/English/Filipino/Mother Tongue or Local Language/Work period 2

1 -6

Less than 8

< 25.81

Sourer. IIRR, FNRI-DOST, and DepEd, 2018.

TABLE 4.7 Use of gardens as learning venues in different learning areas of the sentinel schools for school year 2016-2017 and 2017-2018

School 1

School 2

School 3

  • Edukasyong Pantahanan at Pangkabuhayan (EPP) or Home Economics and Livelihood
  • • Science
  • • Filipino
  • • Music, Arts, Physical Education and Health (МАРЕН)
  • Araling Panlipunan (Social Studies)
  • • English
  • • Mother Tongue Base (Local Language)
  • • Mathematics
  • Edukasyon Sa Pagpapakatao (Values Education)
  • • EPP or Home Economics and Livelihood
  • • Science
  • • Filipino
  • • МАРЕН
  • Araling Panlipunan (Social Studies)
  • • English
  • • Mother Tongue Base (Local Language)
  • • EPP or Home Economics and Livelihood
  • • Science
  • • Filipino
  • • МАРЕН

Source: IIRR, FNRI-DOST. and DepEd, 2018.

Table 4.7 shows data on the integration of garden visitation into different learning areas in three sentinel schools for school years 2016-2017 and 2017-2018. The garden is used for learning and sharing consistently in EPP, Science, and Filipino subjects across Grades 1—6.

Conclusion

Schools are effective platforms to generate multiple nutrition and environmental outcomes from a mix of nutrition-sensitive agriculture and nutrition-specific interventions. School gardens can be enhanced and sustained using low-external input agricultural approaches. Bio-intensive school gardens can contribute to diversifying nutrient sources provided that the feeding programme relies on recipes featuring indigenous vegetables. School-based supplementary feeding for 120-days using vegetable produce from school gardens and iron-fortified rice effectively improved nutritional status of feeding programme beneficiaries. Utilization of garden produce in the feeding programme can also help lower the cost of foods to be served while supporting nutrition and environmental education. Integrating agriculture and nutrition programmes at the local level requires policy support, multi-level capacity building, coordination among programme focal persons, development of technical guides, and a wide range of information, education, and communication materials and monitoring.

Acknowledgements

The action research project was made possible through the funding support from the International Development and Research Centre. The scaling up of the integrated school nutrition model was achieved through the collaborative efforts of school administrators and teachers from the Department of Education Region IVA and Department of Education - Support Services and research staff of IIRR and FNRI-DOST.

References

Bundy, D., Burbano, C., Grosh, M.. Jelli, A.. Jukes, M. and Drake, L. (2009) ‘Rethinking school feeding: Social safety nets, child development, and the education sector’, Washington, DC, World Bank.

Department of Education (2007) ‘DepEd Memorandum No. 293, s. 2007, Culayan sa Paaralari.

Department of Education (2014) ‘DepEd Memorandum No. 5, s. 2014, - Implementing Guidelines on the Integration of Culayan sa Paaralan, Solid Waste Management, and Tree Planting under the National Greening Program’.

Department of Education (2016) ‘DepEd Memorandum No. 51, s. 2016, “Implementation of School-based Feeding Program for School Year 2016-2917’”.

Department of Education (2017) ‘School Health and Nutrition Programs’, Power Point Presentation.

IIRR, FNRI-DOST and DepEd (2018) ‘Improving food and nutrition security in the Philippines through school interventions: School nutrition brief, accessible from https://schoolnutritionphils.files.wordpress.com/2018/10/school-nutrition-brief- fmal_soft-copy.pdf.

IDRC (2018) ‘Final technical report: Improving food and nutrition security through school interventions’, accessible from https://idl-bnc-idrc.dspacedirect.org/bitstream/ handle/10625/57234/57288.pdf.

IIRR (2011) ‘Sustainable agriculture technical vocational education expansion to schools and communities project report’, International Institute of Rural Reconstruction. IIRR (2017) ‘Bio-intensive Gardens (BIG): A climate and nutrition-smart agriculture approach’, International Institute of Rural Reconstruction, accessible from https:// schoolnutritionphils.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/big-primer.pdf.

Philippine Senate (2011) ‘Angara launches Oh mygulay! To fight ‘hidden hunger”, Press Release, February 11, 2011, accessible from www.senate.gov.ph/press_release/2011/0211_ angaral.asp.

 
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