Food consumption under ECQ: Flattening the curve or fattening the curves?

When you are reading this, there is a greater chance that you still have some food supply in your shelves. Otherwise, you are busy scanning your local government’s Facebook page for the next wave of food packs or at least waiting for the financial assistance from the Social Amelioration Program (SAP).

But while we acknowledge that a significant portion of the population are still going hungry because the food packs barely moved an inch from the government’s warehouse, a larger number could be enjoying, if not trying to enjoy, the contents of their plates. A survey in the southern Philippine Regions conducted by the Mindanao Food Highway, for instance, shows that rice consumption increased under Covid-19 from half kilo to 1.5 kilos per family per day compared to the consumption in normal times. This consumption behavior confirms the claim that the most common coping mechanism of Filipinos in times of boredom and stress is eating.

The case of Mindanao is also true in the rest of the country. While in general food supply does not meet demand, a number of local government units were able to provide sufficient, if not more than enough, food to their constituents causing consumption to increase. In the first place, the food is free so the mentality is to enjoy it while supplies last.

Actor and Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez is one of the mayors who distributed at least one sack of rice each to his 62,000 households. Households in other areas may have received more as apart from the supply given by their city or municipal governments, the barangay and provincial governments as well as private groups and individuals also made rounds of food packs distribution containing not only rice but also other commodities.

While some areas received their food packs in large volumes in one wave, others got theirs in a staggered manner — that is, up to the 9th wave depending on the immediately available resources of the LGU. Not all LGUs think like Goma or as rich as Ormoc City anyway.

In the Bicol Region, aside from vegetables and fish, the people also feasted on chicken. Tons of dressed chicken were distributed to households that a number of LGUs and private individuals hosted chicken cooking contests. These included the City of Legazpi where the first price is P1,500. Whether or not the contests are being sensitive to the plight of those who haven’t received any food packs yet or are still struggling where to find their next meal is another story.

Clearly, some people not only enjoy free lunch but also breakfast and supper as well. And because these are free, they tend to forget that the goal of the community quarantine is to flatten the Coronavirus cases curve and not to fatten their curves.

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