Press Release
September 19, 2020


Sen. Grace Poe said the school-based feeding program should reach every student beneficiary with guaranteed funding under the 2021 national budget.

"In the midst of the pandemic, no child should worry about when his next meal will be," said Poe, who in 2018 championed the passage of the Republic Act 11037 or the "Masustansyang Pagkain para sa Batang Pilipino Act," which aims to combat hunger and undernutrition among Filipino children.

The program was appropriated with P5.97-billion budget for next year lodged under the Department Education (DepEd). The proposed funding is currently being deliberated in Congress.

Poe also welcomed the modification in the implementation of the school feeding law in the light of COVID-19 that prohibited face-to-face learning in schools.

The distribution of hot meals to students will instead be replaced by ration of nutritious food products which the DepEd said would be delivered to households or picked up by parents in schools.

The target beneficiaries will also now cover all incoming kindergarten learners and the Grade 1 to 6 students who were wasted and severely wasted based on the 2019-2020 School-Based Feeding Program report, except those who have moved to Grade 7.

"Good nutrition is unquestionably linked to a child's growth and development. Nutritional intervention at a very early stage will give our children greater fighting chance to survive life-threatening diseases and enhance their physical, intellectual, social, emotional and moral development," Poe said.

"The way we feed our children today will dictate the nation we have tomorrow," she added.

The World Bank's Human Capital Index (HCI) 2020 report showed the Philippines' record falling to 0.52 in 2020 from 0.55 in 2018.

The country's HCI score means that "children born in the country today will fail to achieve almost half their potential," the report said.

The index, which measures the human capital potential of children today, ranges from 0 to 1, with scores closer to 1 indicating better human capital status.

Despite the slight decline in its HCI, the World Bank noted the Philippines is among the countries with marked improvements over the last decade, along with Singapore, Morocco and Ghana.

Poe said the budget deliberation on the school feeding program is a timely intervention to improve the country's HCI.

"We cannot change our ranking overnight but consistent implementation of our feeding program makes great strides toward eliminating threats to our children's health," she said.

The national feeding program is being complemented by a public health nutrition and values transformation campaign to promote a holistic and integrated approach to health and nutrition education.

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