The House of Representatives, in a move to safeguard school children from the ill effects of malnutrition and enhance their learning practices, has approved on second reading House Bill 5269 seeking to institutionalize the National School Feeding Program for public kindergarten and elementary pupils.
The proposed “National School Feeding Program Act” was endorsed for plenary approval by the committee on basic education and culture headed by Rep. Evelina Escudero (1st District, Sorsogon).
Rep. Raul del Mar 1st District, Cebu City), a principal author of the bill, said children coming to school with practically no breakfast from home cannot be expected to absorb their lessons in school while suffering from hunger pangs.
Del Mar said the proposal shall be implemented in public schools since almost all school children enrolled therein come from poor families and suffer from undernourishment and malnourishment which affect their capacity to attain and maintain average academic performance.
House Bill 5269 declares it is the State policy to promote the rights of children to survival, development and special protection with full recognition on the nature of childhood and its special needs.
It further declares that in recognizing the direct correlation between good nutrition and the propensity of children to develop into physically and mentally healthy individuals, the State shall endeavor to promote and fortify proper nutrition among school children, especially those belonging to low-income households, in order to safeguard them from the ill effects of malnutrition and enhance their learning capacities.
The measure establishes a National School Feeding Program (NSFP) which will serve as an alternative approach of providing free supplementary meals, including fresh milk and fresh milk- based food products, through a program menu particularly for all children studying in public kindergarten and elementary schools nationwide.
The Department of Education (DepEd) shall lead the administration and implementation of the NSFP.
The bill also mandates the creation of a Child Feeding and Nutrition Committee (CFNC) which shall formulate a school-based feeding and nutrition framework, oversee its review and evaluation, and recommend necessary refinements on the NSFP implementation. It shall be chaired by the DepEd Secretary or a duly authorized representative, and co-chaired by the DOH Secretary or a duly authorized representative.