Senator Sonny Angara is pushing to amend Republic Act (RA) 11037 or the “Masustansyang Pagkain Para sa Batang Pilipino Act,” which institutionalized the national feeding program for undernourished children in public daycare, kindergarten, and elementary schools.
Angara said he filed a bill that would expand the coverage of the School-Based Feeding Program (SBFP) to include learners in secondary schools to further address undernutrition among the country’s students.
Under the veteran legislator’s bill, the SBFP will now include learners from Grades 7 to 12 or junior and senior high school.
The SBFP provides all the covered learners with at least one fortified meal for 120 days in a year.
“Ang gutom ay nagiging hadlang sa kanilang pag-aaral.”
“Isinasama natin ang mga estudyante ng junior at senior high school sa SBFP dahil sila din ay apektado ng kakulangan sa pagkain kung saan ang gutom ay nagiging hadlang sa kanilang pag-aaral,” the seasoned lawmaker said.
The senator cited a World Bank report that for nearly 30 years, there have been almost no improvements in the prevalence of undernutrition in the Philippines.
The report ranked the Philippines fifth among countries in the East Asia and Pacific region with the highest prevalence of stunting and among the 10 countries in the world with the highest number of stunted children.
It stated that poverty has also affected the education of many Filipino children who end up dropping out of school because of hunger.
Noting that the lack of sufficient food remains a problem among many school-aged children, the senator said this issue should be addressed immediately to remove obstacles to the development of children.
“We must constantly find ways to provide them with proper nutrition in all stages of development.”
“Studies have consistently shown that hunger has a correlation to the ability of students to learn. This is on top of the still nagging issue of stunting among Filipino children, which is why we must constantly find ways to provide them with proper nutrition in all stages of development,” he said.
“Children who go to school hungry are inevitably placed at a disadvantage over their well-fed counterparts. We all are aware of how difficult it is to function when one is hungry and it’s no different with students when it comes to learning on an empty stomach,” Angara added.
Signed into law by former President Rodrigo Duterte in 2018, RA 11037 aims to address undernutrition among public school children.