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Poe wants gov’t to expand school-based feeding program in 2018

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Poe wants gov’t to expand school-based feeding program in 2018

/ 09:20 PM September 18, 2017

Sen. Grace Poe (File photo from Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Sen. Grace Poe has called on the government to support the expansion of the school-based feeding program (SBFP) to cover more beneficiaries and address malnutrition, which “still plagues Filipino students.”

During the Senate hearing on the Department of Education’s (DepEd) proposed a P612.11-billion budget for 2018, Poe said the government could expand the program to include undernourished children.

The program currently covers “wasted” and “severely wasted” students or those suffering from chronic malnutrition.

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“Bale wala naman ang magagandang mga programa natin o magagandang classrooms natin kung yung mga bata ay hindi naman makapag-isip dahil nagugutom,” Poe, co-sponsor of Senate Bill No. 1279, “An Act Creating a National School Feeding Program to Combat Hunger and Undernutrition for all Basic Education Students,” said in a statement on Monday.

While plenary debates are still ongoing on the proposed law to institutionalize the program currently implemented by the DepEd and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Poe said she would fully support any initiative to augment the program’s budget.

Meanwhile, Poe said Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis-Briones told senators that more than 90 percent of target-beneficiaries had been covered by the SBFP in recent years.

“Mas madaling mag-feed ng bata kesa mag-construct ng classroom,” Briones said, referring not only to the supposed underspending of the agency but also to the slow pace of school building and classroom construction due to “apparent bureaucratic processes.”

Poe also pointed out that the program could better encourage students to attend their classes.

“Kapag may pagkain ang mga bata sa public schools, mas mae-engganyo silang pumasok,” Poe said, citing various studies on the positive impact of feeding programs. “Nakita natin sa mga paaralan kung saan mayroong pagkain ang mga bata, mas matataas ang mga scores… Kung mas mabilis ang utilization para sa pagpapakain ng mga bata, hindi masasayang iyan kasi diretso sa tiyan.”

The DepEd, which allocated P5.3 billion for the feeding program in 2018, aims to implement the SBFP for 2.5 million students in 2018, the senator said.

This year, meanwhile, the agency had allotted some P3.9 billion for 1.8 million students, Poe added.

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SBFP, she said, aims to focus on wasted and severely wasted kinder to sixth grade pupils nationwide for a total of 120 feeding days, while the DSWD, for its part, allotted P3.43 billion for the supplemental feeding program, which will cover children aged 3 to 5 years old in poor communities.

According to Poe, massive government investment is needed for nutrition-focused programs, as one-third of the student population in public schools nationwide are undernourished.

Citing another study, the senator said that a lot of Filipino students had been suffering from stunted growth, a condition wherein a child is too short for his or her age due to lack of nutrition. /atm

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TAGS: DepEd, SBFP, school-based feeding program
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