Pagcor allots P42 million for feeding program
MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor) has allocated more than P42 million for its nationwide feeding program for the school year 2014-2015 as part of its continuing efforts to help the government combat malnutrition among Filipino children.
Pagcor said about 10,000 undernourished students in various public elementary schools nationwide are expected to benefit from the said program.
The beneficiaries of the program will come from roughly 175 public schools located in casino host-cities like Metro Manila, Angeles, Bacolod, Cebu, Davao, Laoag, Olongapo and Tagaytay, Henry Reyes, Pagcor’s assistant vice president for community relations and services department, said in a statement on Monday.
“The Pagcor Feeding Program beneficiaries will be fed with complete, nutritious meals for 120 days to help them attain their ideal weight and to also improve their overall health and wellbeing. We are giving priority to schools with high incidence of “severely wasted” or “wasted” pupils (considered the poorest of the poor) in areas where the Pagcor properties are located,” said Reyes.
Action Contre la Faim, or ACF International, which carries out the “Action Against Hunger” campaign in 45 countries, said that “severe wasting” is characterized by massive loss of body fat and muscle tissue.
Severely wasted children, the humanitarian organization added, “look almost elderly and their bodies are extremely thin and skeletal. They suffer from severe acute malnutrition.”
“Wasted” children, on the other hand, are those with moderate acute malnutrition.
For school year 2014-2015, Reyes said, the program aims to cover a maximum of 140 students per school.
“So far, our feeding project has already benefitted close to 38,000 public elementary students in more than 500 public schools since we launched it in July 2010,” Reyes said.
The new batch of beneficiaries of the program includes nearly 400 students in eight public schools in Ilocos Norte, namely, Naguilian Elementary School, Acnam-Caray Elementary School, Monte Elementary School, Danao Elementary School, Dingras West Elementary School, Cabittuaran Elementary School, Gubang Elementary School and Canaam Elementary School.
Romualdo Pascua, principal of Dingras West Elementary School in Ilocos Norte, said the agency’s feeding program will improve the health of the school’s 130 “severely wasted” and “wasted” students whose families could not afford to feed them.
“Ang mga batang ito ay galing sa mga mahirap na pamilya. Malaking tulong ang feeding program ng Pagcor. Madadagdagan ng sustansya ang kanilang kinakain. Kapag wasto ang nutrisyon, mas maganda ang resulta ng kanilang pag-aaral,” Pascua said.
Another school that is benefitting from the program is the Naguilian Elementary School, 50 kilometers away from Laoag City. Its officer-in-charge Marites Remos said more than half of their 125 students severely lack nutrition.
Many of their students are identified as “severely wasted” like nine-year-old Eilahnia who only weighs 16 kilos. She weighs 10 kilos less than the normal weight of 26 kilos for children her age. Remos said Eilahnia had learning difficulties.
“Yung reading level n’ya ay below the desired reading level. Malaking factor d’yan ‘yung kakulangan ng bata sa nutrition. Kaya malaking tulong na napili s’yang beneficiary ng Pagcor Feeding Program,” Remos added.
Eilahnia said their family rarely eat meat or fish. What they usually eat is rice with boiled vegetable leaves and “bagoong.” The Grade 4 pupil was thankful that she was chosen as one of the beneficiaries of the Pagcor Feeding Program. At least now, she said, she can already eat one complete meal every day for the next five months.
Meanwhile, Karen Ignacio, a nurse at the Casino Filipino Laoag branch, hopes that the students will improve their weight and nutritional state through the feeding program.
“Our target is for our beneficiaries to reach a healthy weight at the end of the program. Kung hindi man mataas, at least maiangat natin sa border ‘yung timbang,” she said.
Ignacio is one of several Pagcor employees who voluntarily assist in the agency’s feeding sessions during her spare time.
“I volunteer because I want to help these school children. Hindi man financial ‘yung maibigay natin, makakatulong naman tayong maiangat yung nutrition status nila,” she added.
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