Press Release
May 5, 2007

Cafeterias for all public schools -- Angara

Senator Edgardo J. Angara today said that all public schools should have basic cafeterias, and that this should be mandatory in all school building plans for public schools.

"I discovered, while going around the country in the course of the campaign, that most of our public schools have no proper cafeteria areas. Even if the students have baon, they have no suitable place to eat. The same goes for our teachers," he said.

Angara said that he will make it a requirement for bidders for school building construction to include cafeterias in their plans.

He further lamented that not enough attention is placed on the health and nutrition of school-age Filipino children.

"In other countries, even the food served in cafeterias is free. The nutrition of their children is the utmost priority, especially at this critical period of learning and development," said Angara.

He further proposed for a genuine school feeding program that does not merely include giving a kilo of rice per pre-school and grade school pupil.

"Malnutrition affects a huge percentage of Filipino children, making them susceptible to disease and infection. Based on the 2003 National Nutrition Survey, 2.9 million primary school-age children were underweight, while 3.41 million were growth-stunted. We should immediately undertake programs to improve the health and nutrition of our children," he said.

Angara has been undertaking a School Feeding Program (SFP) to address the malnutrition problem among school-age children through the delivery of basic food products.

Through the SFP, provisions of milk, noodles and egg are given to pupils from Grade 1 to 3 on a 120-day feeding cycle. Angara stressed that these children, aged 7-9, are in their most important mental and physical development stage.

To date, over 24,000 pupils from the NCR and provincial schools in Abra, Aurora, Benguet, Ilocos Norte and Iloilo have benefited from the SFP program. The program saw great improvements in attendance, learning capabilities, academic performance, overall nutritional status, and the reduction of drop-out rates among beneficiaries.

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