Press Release
September 1, 2016

Gov't feeding budget for malnourished kids is worse than 'preso value meals'
Recto scores P.8-B slash in DWSD's child feeding budget

Government is spending P13 per meal to feed a malnourished child which Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto lamented is lower than the P16.70 "preso value meal" that is served to a prisoner.

"If we are bothered by the small food budget given to convicts, then we should be outraged over the pitifully smaller allocation for meals of children in daycare centers and schools," Recto said.

The daily food allocation of the country's 135,000 inmates is about P50 each, or P16.70 per meal, Recto said.

That, however, is still higher than the P13 meal budget of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in its "Supplemental Feeding Program," Recto said.

The DSWD's 13-peso meal consists of a viand worth P10, plus P3 worth of rice.

Anyone who can whip up a nutritious meal on P13 "should win the Magsaysay Award in kitchenomics," Recto said.

"Walang karinderya sa bayang ito ang nagtitinda ng isang ulam at isang kanin sa halagang trese pesos. Wala ring kusinero na magsasabi na sapat ang trese pesos," Recto said.

For this year, DSWD has a budget of P4.27 billion to serve one meal for 120 days to 2.150 million children in daycare centers and in what it describes as "supervised neighborhood plays."

The same lack of funds hound the Department of Education's (DepEd) School-Based Feeding Program, in which the basic cost of a meal is P16, plus P2 for operational expenses.

This year, the agency has a budget of P4.1 billion--enough to provide one meal a day for 120 days to 1.9 million "severely wasted and underweight" children ages five to 11, or those enrolled from kindergarten to Grade 6.

What is worse, Recto said, is that the DSWD's proposed budget for its feeding program for 2017 has been slashed to P3.42 billion, an P844 million cut which would reduce the number of beneficiaries by 404,000.

"When malnutrition is on the rise, the right response is to increase funding for feeding programs. But it seems we're doing the opposite, by starving it of funds. When hunger is on the rise, why would you put nutrition programs on a diet?" Recto said.

While Recto commends the proposed increase in the budget of the DepEd feeding program from P4.1 billion this year to P4.2 billion next year, "the challenge, basically, is how to raise the budget per meal."

Recto is proposing that the per meal budget in both the DepEd and the DSWD feeding programs be increased to P30 next year.

By his computation, such would require an additional P3.56 billion for DSWD and P2.76 billion for DepEd, or P6.2 billion for both, raising the total budget for the twin programs to P13.89 billion from the proposed P8.37 billion.

"'Yung P6.2 billion na dagdag, maliit 'yan kung ihahambing sa dami ng beneficiary. Kung may dagdag pondo para sa sweldo ng mga kawani ng gobyerno, bakit sa bata wala?" Recto said.

Recto explained that the meal budget was designed, computed and developed based on an official government study that P15 would be enough to prepare a meal that meets one-third of the daily Recommended Energy and Nutrition Intake (RENI).

The 8th National Nutrition Survey conducted in 2013 showed that two out of 10 children below five years were underweight and three in 10 were stunted.

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