Nutribun. Image Credit: Supplied

Manila: A brand of bread that was popular with schoolchildren during the 1970s is making a comeback, at least in Marikina City where local leaders are seriously concerned with the health and well-being of its students.

Marikina City will be among the first local government administrations to introduce a school meal programme by giving out Nutribun.

Marikina City Mayor Marcelino Teodoro, during the launch of the scheme on Tuesday, said they noticed that some public school students in the city were undernourished and offering them Nutribun could provide them with proper nutrition.

“We found out that some schoolchildren go to school without having anything for breakfast and if they do have, it may not contain the right amount of nutrition. Malnutrition affects the children’s performance in school, so this must be addressed,” he said.

Nutribun’s appearance is similar to any locally available bun, but what makes it different is its content.

“Our bread is made of malunggay [moringa leaves], squash, eggs and flour. It comes with milk. The nutritional content of these ingredients are appropriate for growing children,” Teodoro said.

“We want all children in the city to be healthy and happy by providing them proper nutrition. That’s why I came up with [the idea] reviving the Nutribun programme for 21,000 Kinder and Grade 1 public school children,” Teodoro said.

The mayor said that to gauge the effectiveness of the feeding programme, the children’s body mass and performance in school will be monitored.

In 1972, Nutribun was given out for free to public school students as part of a United States Agency for International Development initiative.

The administration of then President Ferdinand Marcos claimed the programme as its own for political purposes and the image of the Nutribun became synonymous with the Marcos administration.

The Nutribun’s original formulation was developed by the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University between 1968 and 1970 as a means to fight malnutrition in the Philippines.

An article published in the local edition of Esquire magazine, which was written by food writer Jenny B Orillos, said the Nutribun “was designed as a convenient ‘ready-to-eat complete meal’ for public elementary school feeding programmes to combat child malnutrition in the Philippines.”

“Schools in economically depressed areas where children weighed below the normal weight for their age were the priority consumers of the Nutribun,” Orillos wrote.