Senator Grace Poe said poor children will continue to be served with free, nutritious meals under the government’s feeding programs with fresh funding from the 2021 budget.
“As we all await the COVID-19 vaccine, let’s continue to give our children doses of healthy food as their safety net against the virus and other illnesses,” Poe said.
“Access to quality food and nutrition for everyone, especially the poor, should be part of any overarching plan to combat the pandemic.”
“Access to quality food and nutrition for everyone, especially the poor, should be part of any overarching plan to combat the pandemic,” the veteran legislator added.
Under the General Appropriations Act of 2021, around P6 billion has been set aside for the School-Based Feeding Program (SBFP) to provide undernourished children from Kindergarten to Grade 6 with at least one fortified meal covering not less than 120 days in a year.
Implemented by the Department of Education (DepEd), the SBFP is a component of Republic Act (RA) 11037 or Masustansyang Pagkain Para sa Batang Pilipino Act, which the seasoned lawmaker authored.
Children-beneficiaries used to receive food rations in schools in the past. But because of the pandemic, the DepEd together with the local government units now delivers the food packs to the homes of the kids or to designated centers to be picked up by their parents or guardians.
Another component under RA 11037 is the Supplementary Feeding Program (SFP) which was alloted with a P3.8 billion budget this year.
Under the supervision of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the program provides children ages two to five with one fortified meal for not less than 120 days in a year. It is being administered in the child development centers, daycare centers or in any appropriate facility as determined by the agency.
Priority beneficiaries of this feeding program are children in fourth, fifth, and sixth class municipalities and in areas with large populations of undernourished children.
The DSWD is tasked to coordinate with the Department of Health, National Nutrition Council, Department of Agriculture and the Early Childhood Care and Development Council and other concerned departments for the inclusion of therapeutic milk and other foods enriched with minerals, proteins, and vitamins in the fortified meals.
Aside from the SFP and SBFP, the third component of RA 11037 is the Milk Feeding Program, which provides fortified meals and cycle menus including fresh milk and fresh milk-based food products to address undernutrition among Filipino children. It is being implemented by the Department of Agriculture, Philippine Carabao Center and the Cooperative Development Agency.
“We know that undernutrition and malnutrition in their own right are killers, even prior to the pandemic,” the lady senator said.
“We hope we can help deal with the scourge of all forms of hunger and malnutrition through the feeding programs.”
“We hope we can help deal with the scourge of all forms of hunger and malnutrition through the feeding programs,” she stressed.
Poe also cited the national Social Weather Stations survey done in November last year which found that 16 percent or an estimated four million families experienced involuntary hunger – or hunger due to lack of food to eat – at least once in the past three months.
She urged the implementing agencies to ensure that the billions in the budget for the feeding programs are translated into nutritious food on every poor family’s table to stave off hunger and boost their fighting chance against diseases.
Poe said the concerned departments should also strengthen their tie-up with local government units, aid agencies, civic groups, and social arms of corporations to improve the implementation of the programs.