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I'm Not Hungry, But I Am Starving

We tend to think that hunger is from not having food. However, there are many children who are suffering from malnutrition, not because they don't have access to food, but because their food is not healthy and they simply are not getting the nutrition they need. In the Philippines, where the gross national product has been increasing, so has malnutrition. So what's the problem? "When you compare this to your neighbor countries, even if you have higher GDP than Vietnam and Cambodia, they were able to decrease malnutrition. This is a national problem," explains Javad Amoozegar, Philippines country director of Action Against Hunger, a non-government organization that fights malnutrition all over the world and one of our charity partners.

Good nutrition starts in the womb and continues with breastfeeding after childbirth. During the first two years of life, the brain cells develop, and to develop properly, good nutrition is vital. Amoozegard continues, "We're not just talking about physical hunger but the inner hunger, which only can be addressed from conception to five years old. The children in schools are already passed that period, so it's too late. They only provide food so children can cope with their studies. The one we want is to address before five years old. That is the only window. If that window passes, the child will never recover," Javad says.

So why is this happening in that country? Education seems to be a big part of the problem, by affecting the food choices Filipinos make. These choices are not in tune with the Food Pyramid. They feed their children junk food or empty calories like sugar-filled soda and food high in cholesterol like chips. Sound familiar?

Action Against Hunger (AAH) has launched a global fundraising campaign in the Philippines called Restaurants Against Hunger. The group collaborated with chefs and restaurants around Manila to raise funds for its programs. A certain dish or dishes or an entire section on the menu of the restaurant can contribute to the needed funding of AAH. This campaign is not new, just new to the Philippines, as it has been very successful in other countries.

There are four main projects of the organization: nutrition, WASH (water sanitation and hygiene), food security, and emergency response. A total of 102 restaurants are currently participating in the local campaign, which started last November and will run into the first part of this year. The campaign's local ambassadors, husband and wife Chef Rolando and Jackie Ludic, and of course their restaurants, are participating. "This is our first year. There's a detachment here in Metro Manila when it comes to information about malnutrition," says AAH fund raising manager Dale Nelson Divinagracia. "The key here is all restaurants join, big or small, local or international. It creates awareness."

Arteeni's mission is to promote American artisans and support our charity partners by donating a portion of each sale. For more information about Action Against Hunger or to select them as your designated cause, click here.


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