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Mega fight vs hunger
FUNDS for the two mega child feeding programs of the government were increased significantly.
Calling it “upsized” budget, Deputy Speaker Batangas Representative Ralph Recto said the budget of two feeding programs was increased from P7.48 billion last year to P10.89 billion this year or an increase of 45.5 percent.
From P3.32 billion in 2022, funding for the Department of Education’s “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.
On the other hand, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 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 (Duterte) and Secretary Rex (Gatchalian), in addition to what’s on their plates, will have to play the role of master chefs in this nationwide catering operation,” he added.
In addition to helping children lacking in food and nutrition, the two programs can be leveraged into helping local farmers and food producers.
“Kung ganyan kalaki ang food shopping money mo, pwede mong bilhin sa tamang presyo ang mga produkto ng mga magsasaka na binabarat kaya nabubulok lang,” Recto pointed out.
“With the community participating, then indeed it takes a village to feed a child,” he said.
However, Recto said the school-feeding program should be “tweaked” so that it will not be an additional burden to teachers.
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 percent from 11.3 percent in June 2022, affecting around three million Filipino families.
Before COVID-19 worsened it, the prevalence of undernutrition in Filipino children below 5 years old was already at 29 percent.