DepEd aims to feed 2-M ‘wasted’ school kids
THE DEPARTMENT of Education (DepEd) has approved starting this month the implementation of the school-based feeding program (SBFP) which aims to benefit nearly 2 million malnourished and underfed school children this year.
The number of program beneficiaries, particularly wasted and severely wasted Kindergarten to Grade 6 students, increased this year compared to last year’s figure of approximately 1.1 million children.
Last year’s SBFP targeted 532,752 severely wasted and 627,403 wasted students in public schools nationwide.
Wasting is described by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) as low weight for height resulting from acute significant food shortage or disease.
According to a June 29 DepEd order, this year’s SBFP aims to nourish and inculcate positive health values and habits on 533,425 severely wasted and 1,385,039 wasted Kindergarten to Grade 6 pupils in all public schools nationwide.
The SBFP should start this month, but in case of delay, schools can begin the feeding program not later than September.
‘Gulayan sa Paaralan’
Based on the order, “the program primarily aims to improve the nutritional status of the beneficiaries by at least 70 percent at the end of 120 feeding days.”
It aims to increase school attendance by 85 percent.
It directs all schools to set up and maintain the “Gulayan sa Paaralan (School Vegetable Garden) Program” as a source of ingredients for the SBFP. It also tasks them to “encourage the families of the beneficiaries to have their own home gardens so that nutritional improvement is maintained at home.”
For the nationwide implementation of the SBFP this year, the DepEd has set aside over P4.1 billion, with around P2,160 allocated for the feeding and operational expenses of each beneficiary in a period of 120 days. This amounts to P18 a day for each beneficiary.
The Southern Tagalog region, including the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon, has the most number of severely wasted and wasted public school pupils at 352,993 followed by the Western Visayas with 193,875 and Central Luzon with 169,910.
The National Capital Region has 48,742 severely wasted and 105,678 wasted school kids.
Citing a 2015 impact study by the Philippine Institute of Developmental Studies, the DepEd said that in the past six years since the SBFP was implemented, 73 percent of the undernourished student beneficiaries had normal nutrition by the end of 120 feeding days or four months.
“School attendance was also noted to have improved and is averaging 98 percent. The children were observed to have better class participation and exhibited positive health habits such as washing of hands before and after eating, toothbrushing and general good grooming behavior,” the DepEd said.
The DepEd further observed that the SBFP worked best with school health programs such as deworming, the GPP and water, sanitation and hygiene.