Press Release
October 17, 2010

Complimentary Feeding To All Public Elementary Schools
and Barangay Day Care Centers - Legarda Files 'Child Nutrition' Bill

Senator Loren Legarda is proposing that the State institutionalize a mandatory child nutrition program in all public elementary schools and barangay day care centers that is comprehensive, integrated and sustainable on a national scale to enhance their learning capacities in compulsory basic education. Legarda said this program will encompass the following:

1. Complementary feeding to ensure access to food supplements which will improve nutritional status. This activity may also be used as a venue for other nutrition-related activities such as micronutrient supplementation, weighing and growth monitoring, deworming of children, promotion of improved hygiene practices including handwashing, emergency feeding during and after disasters, health and nutrition counseling.

2. Dietary diversification/backyard gardening to assure availability of nutritious food in the local areas. Enhancing community resources accessible to local households and managed by the community will be an effective strategy to address lack of nutritious food.

Legarda said she filed Senate Bill No. 2561 otherwise known as the "Child Nutrition Law" because Statistics from the Department of Health show that:

1. An estimated 50% of pupils are anemic;

2. Two out of ten children are iodine-deficient and

3. Four out of one hundred pre-schoolers have night blindness, even as 17 school children go blind every day due to Vitamin A deficiency.

"The same report reveals that a majority of school children suffer from dental caries (84.3%); intestinal parasitism (75%); malnutrition (44.9%); and various infections of the ear (17.2%) and skin (52%)."

Legarda said the results of a nationwide mapping released by the National Nutrition Council has revealed that securing a most basic human need--food--remains a challenge to our people in 49 provinces  (63.6%), in varying degrees.

"A total of 38 provinces were classified as Vulnerable, eight provinces as Very Vulnerable, and three provinces as Very Very Vulnerable to food insecurity."

"The Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition for the year 2008-2010, the country's blueprint for achieving nutritional adequacy, declares a vision of Filipinos as well-nourished, healthy, intelligent, and socially and economically productive people with a high sense of human dignity."

"Exceptionally high development returns have been reported by the World Bank resulting from a number of direct nutrition interventions."

"Success in addressing undernutrition is essential to meeting the Millennium Development Goals, which the Philippines is working to achieve by 2015. This intervention is urgent, as undernutrition is largely preventable. Legarda concluded.

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