Congress has set aside a total of PHP7.8 billion in the 2022 national budget for feeding programs that are expected to benefit over 3.6 million undernourished children, Rep. Michael Defensor (Anakalusugan) said on Sunday, ahead of the observance of November as National Children’s Month.
“We are counting on the national government’s targeted feeding programs to help improve the nutritional and overall health condition of children from poverty-stricken families who continue to suffer from hunger,” said Defensor, House committee on welfare of children vice chairperson.
A Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey in June found that an estimated 3.4 million Filipino families experienced involuntary hunger – hunger due to lack of food to eat – at least once in the past three months.
Defensor said the Supplemental Feeding Program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is getting PHP4.2 billion to provide meals and milk to 1.9 million children aged two to five years old over a period of 120 days.
“The program targets underfed children who are not formally enrolled in kindergarten,” Defensor said.
Meanwhile, the School-Based Feeding Program (SBFP) of the Department of Education (DepEd) is receiving PHP3.3 billion to supply nutritious food products (NFPs) and fresh milk to 1.7 million learners from kindergarten to Grade 6, also over a period of 120 days, according to Defensor.
“The SBFP targets wasted and severely wasted learners, or those deemed too skinny for their age,” Defensor said.
Since the shift to blended distance learning, the DepEd has substituted the SBFP’s hot meals with NFPs and fresh milk.
The supplies are also now either getting picked up by parents once or twice a week from designated collection points or getting delivered to the homes of children.
Defensor said the Complementary Feeding Program of the Department of Health (DOH) also has PHP250 million for therapeutic milk and protein-enriched meals meant to enrich diet and augment the nutrition of infants aged six to 23 months as well as breastfeeding mothers.
The DOH’s National Nutrition Council likewise has PHP139 million for its Early Childhood Care and Development in the First 1,000 Days Program, Defensor said.
The program helps local government units in providing food aid to nutritionally at-risk pregnant women.
Last Wednesday, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said the House of Representatives has transmitted to the Senate its approved General Appropriations Bill (GAB) or the proposed PHP5.024-trillion national budget for 2022. (PR)