Poe wants no letup enforcement of feeding program in schools, day care
Senator Grace Poe on Thursday pressed the government to spend in “full and without delay” this year’s P8.8-billion budget for school and day care feeding program amid the soaring prices of food commodities.
Poe made the call after officials in the education sector revealed during a budget hearing that only about 1.823 million learners were so far covered by the school-based feeding program despite receiving a P5.3-billion allocation to serve one meal a day for 120 days to 2.5 million stunted public school students ages 6 to 11.
“Dapat itong tutukan nang maigi kasi sa kabuuan, 4.3 million na mga bata ang dapat makinabang. Ang para sa kanila ay dapat maibigay sa kanila,” Poe said in a statement.
For its part, the Department of Social Welfare and Development has been given P3.428 billion for 2018 to provide 1.746 million “underweight and underheight” children five years old and below one meal a day for 120 days in more than 53,000 day care centers and community centers nationwide.
“When food becomes scarce at home, then let us augment it with meals in schools and day care centers,” said Poe, main author of Republic Act 11037 or the national feeding program law.
Aside from augmenting the implementation, the senator also stressed that effective oversight is required as it involved big amount of money.
If the agencies will underspend, then it leads to more cases of undernutrition, Poe said.
“Itong child feeding programs ay dapat tingnan din na isang mahalagang uri ng TRAIN safety nets,” Poe said, referring to mitigation measures the government has implemented to cushion the effects of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion law (TRAIN) that aggravated the rise in the prices of basic goods.
A Senate review of the program’s current status “is vital considering past audit reports on how these programs were bungled by inefficiency,” Poe noted.
She added that part of the program review is to assess if the 2019 national budget adequately funds the many mandates of the Republic Act 11037 or the Masustansyang Pagkain Para sa Batang Pilipino Act.
Signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte last June 20, the law, which was authored by Poe, scales up the government nutrition program for the youth. /jpv
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