DOST cooks up a ‘pack of hope’ for hungry disaster victims

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QUEZON CITY, May 27 -- Many disasters have already happened in the country with the Bohol earthquake and the typhoon ‘Yolanda’ as the most recent. Disasters left the country with many lessons learned. After super typhoon Yolanda for example, many victims were reported to have no food to eat for many days. Preparing food was impossible with no electricity, water and gas in the disaster zone.

The disaster victims’ real need is food that can fill their hunger and doesn’t need any elaborate preparations before filling up an empty stomach. Generally all emergency food such as canned foods, noodles, coffee, rice, crackers stockpiled by the local governments and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and distributed to the victims require water and heat which maybe unavailable.

According to Daisy Tañafranca, head of the Packaging Technology Division (PTD) of the Department of Science and Technology-Industrial Technology Development Institute (DOST-ITDI), there are three stages of providing relief foods:
First stage - Immediately after disaster, power, gas, and water are cut off. Survivors need food that can be eaten without drinkables and without cooking.
Second stage - Upon restoring power and other utilities, survivors can make use of emergency instant food requiring hot water and cooking.
Third stage - All utilities are back on line, allowing survivors to use cooking equipment and prepare food and ingredients as relief from outside the disaster zone. At this stage, nutritious foods or supplement are provided to survivors.

Considering said stages, Tañafranca’s team developed a new technology that is ready to address the need of every disaster victims with regard to hunger.

PTD developed a “pack of hope” which will lessen the agony of the disasters victims by providing them a complete meal in every pack. Said “pack of hope’ is the ready to eat (RTE) chicken arroz caldo categorized as disaster food ready to eat without drinkables.

Tañafranca said the product was developed as a disaster mitigation/relief food to address immediate hunger of disaster victims. It has a shelf life of at least one year. The packaging structure is lightweight and very handy. It was designed to withstand aerial distribution of about 800-1000ft for the distribution in flooded areas or in disaster zone that cannot be reached by land because of damages.

According to Ms. Tañafranca, relief foods can be classified into:

Category A- Food requiring no preparation and consumed without drinkables. Chicken arroz caldo is under this category, said Tañafranca. Products under this category are provided to survivors in the first stage of disaster, in which food can satisfying hunger for two days after the disaster.

Category B- Food requiring no preparation and consumed with a drinkable. Biscuits/crackers can be eaten with an accompanying drinkable.

Category C- Food eaten after adding or immersing in hot water like instant noodles or pre-gelatinized rice.

Category D- Food eaten must be cooked such as rice.

Tañafranca’s research team will do the field testing and validation study of the RTE chicken arroz caldo in collaboration with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) using DSWD’s protocols.

PTD still has three RTE disaster preparation foods in the pipeline, said Tañafranca. One is the chicken rice meal which is in the process of validation. Another is the beef tapa rice meal which is in the development stage, and the corn soup which is in the process of shelf life study.

In an initial meeting with DSWD, Tañafranca said that DSWD was receptive to the project and accepted chicken arroz caldo as disaster/relief food. “In fact, DSWD now prefers relief foods that are convenient to pack, ready to eat, does not require cooking, with a shelf life of at least one year, and chicken and fish as main ingredients.” Tañafranca said. Tañafranca also informed that the DSWD will fund the commercial production using toll packers’ facility and stock them in the regions. “At least two companies are interested to produce the product for DSWD and at the same time commercialize the product under different brand name,” she revealed.

DOST-ITDI’s partnership with the private sector will be covered by a Memorandum of Agreement. (S&T Media Service)