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BIGGER SHARE FOR FEEDING PROGRAM IN 2022 URGED

A group of educators has called on Congress to raise the funding for the country’s feeding program.

This, as the funding for the School-Based Feeding Program (SBFP) had been slashed by around 2.7 billion compared to this year’s allocation in the proposed 2022 budget of the Department of Education.

Abante expressed bemusement at the decrease in the SBFP’s budget, considering that the DepEd had been touting that it had surpassed its target number of beneficiaries.

“With more children going hungry because of the pandemic, the SBFP is a life-line. Huwag naman po nating putulin ang serbisyong ito,” Philippine Educators Alliance for Community Empowerment (PEACE) Party-list President Marie Paz T. Abante said.

The budget for the SBFP for 2022 is P3.3 billion. Around P6 billion had been set aside for the program this year.

The SBFP is a component of the National Feeding Program mandated by Republic Act No. 11037 or the “Masustansyang Pagkain Para sa Batang Pilipino Act” targeting undernourished school children from kindergarten to grade six.

Abante expressed bemusement at the decrease in the SBFP’s budget, considering that the DepEd had been touting that it had surpassed its target number of beneficiaries.

The DepEd had announced that it would increase its coverage for the upcoming School Year 2021-2022 to 3.1 million learners. For SY 2020-2021, the program exceeded its 1.7 million target beneficiaries, posting a 183.46% achievement rate for the milk component and 198.15% for the Nutritious Food Products (NFP) component.

“Instead of slashing the program’s budget, we should actually increase it so that it could benefit more children,” Abante said.

Meanwhile, PEACE Partylist’s chairman for its Committee on Community Programs, Bishop Rodolfo Juan of the United Methodist Church, urged Congress to also bolster the funding for the Department of Social Welfare and Development’s Supplementary Feeding Program.

“Instead of slashing the program’s budget, we should actually increase it so that it could benefit more children.”

The program is the NFP’s other component, which targets undernourished children from three to five years of age in fourth, fifth and sixth class municipalities, as well as in areas with a large population of undernourished children. The proposed budget for the SFP in 2022 is P4.1 billion.

“The national feeding program is crucial in mitigating the long-term effects of hunger on our children. Kailangang maprotektahan natin ang mga bata sa gitna ng tumataas na bilang ng mga pamilyang nagugutom,” Juan said.

He said that increasing the funding for the NFP would help sustain the country’s strides in addressing hunger.

According to the Pilipinas Kontra Gutom movement, from 7 million in the third quarter of 2020, the number of Filipino families experiencing hunger had dropped to 4 million.

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