Congress ‘upsizes’ DepEd, DSWD child feeding fund to P10.9B

February 6, 2023 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 228 views

CONGRESS has “upsized” the budget of two mega child feeding programs of the government, from P7.48 billion last year to P10.89 billion, a 45.5% percent bump, House Deputy Speaker Ralph Recto said Monday.

From P3.32 billion in 2022, funding for the Department of Education’s (DepEd) “School-Based Feeding Program” rose to P5.69 billion in this year’s national budget, an increase of P2.37 billion.

“DepEd will not only feed the mind, but the body as well. Nutrition impacts learning. Para magkalaman ang isipan, dapat may laman ang sikmura,” Recto said.

With the amount, DepEd said in its budget presentation to Congress that 1.7 million learners will benefit.

The DSWD, on the other hand, will be getting P5.2 billion for its “Supplementary Feeding Program,” up by P1.04 billion from last year’s P4.16 billion.

The amount will be enough to feed 1,754,637 children aged two to five in community and neighborhood sites.

“That is almost 200 million meals served by DSWD alone,” Recto pointed out.

“In effect, VP Inday and Secretary Rex, in addition to what’s on their plates, will have to play the role of master chefs in this nationwide catering operation,” he said.

In addition to helping children lacking in food and nutrition, the two programs can be leveraged into helping local farmers and food producers, Recto said.

“Kung ganyan kalaki ang food shopping money mo, puwede mong bilhin sa tamang presyo ang mga produkto ng mga magsasaka na binabarat kaya nabubulok lang,” Recto said.

“With the community participating, then indeed, it takes a village to feed a child,” he said.

But Recto said the school-feeding program should be “tweaked” so that it will not be an additional burden to teachers.

“The call of VP Sara for more support personnel in her agency is correct. There are limits to teacher multitasking – and that has been reached,” he said.

With their combined budget of P10.89 billion for child feeding, Recto said the DepEd and the DSWD will serve as “a safety net that will catch children who fall in between the hunger cracks widened by the gap in household income and food prices.”

In their December 2022 survey, pollster SWS revealed that the hunger rate in the Philippines rose slightly to 11.8 % from 11.3 % in June 2022, affecting around three million Filipino families.

Before COVID-19 worsened, the prevalence of undernutrition in Filipino children below five years old was already at 29%.