Press Release
March 20, 2018


Sen. Chiz Escudero has lauded the approval of the Masustansyang Pagkain Para sa Batang Pilipino Act which seeks to institutionalize a comprehensive national feeding program that seeks to address the undernutrition among Filipino children.

"Mahirap nga namang mag-aral kung kumakalam ang ating mga tiyan at layunin naming tiyakin na sa formative years ng kabataang Pilipino makatulong, pumasok, at mag-intervene ang pamahalaan upang sa gayon matiyak na kumpleto ang kanilang pag-aaral at matututunan sa loob ng silid-paaralan," said Escudero, chairman of the Senate Committee on Education Arts and Culture.

Undernourished kids are defined as those who have been "supplied with less than the minimum amount of foods essential for sound and health growth." It puts focus on undernourished children who are suffering from malnutrition and chronic hunger, and those falling under wasted, severely wasted and stunted categories, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Escudero, who put forward the proposed measure, said they want to address undernutrition, which according to the World Food Programme has "adverse effects on crucial early stages of child development, leading to cognitive and behavioral deficits, learning disability, and ultimately to an uncompetitive workforce."

The veteran lawmaker expanded the coverage of the feeding program through the involvement of the Department of Health (DOH), which will be providing micronutrient supplements and will be conducting health examinations, de-worming and vaccination to monitor the health and condition of the beneficiaries of the program.

The national feeding program has several components, including a supplemental feeding program for Day Care children ages three to five years. This will be facilitated and supported by local government units (LGUs) along with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

There will also be school-based feeding programs for undernourished public school children from kindergarten to Grade 6 to be implemented by the Department of Education (DepEd).

Escudero's proposal also wanted to make sure that at least one fortified meal will be served for a period of not less than 120 days in a year, which will be prepared in schools with the help of recognized parents' organizations.

Fortified meals are food with deliberately increased content of essential micronutrients so as to improve the nutritional quality of the food and provide the level of calories and protein as prescribed by the National Nutrition Council (NNC) which shall consist of at least one third (1/3) of the daily requirement based on the Philippine Dietary Reference Intake (PDRI).

In order to boost the livelihood of local dairy farmers, the NGAs involved in the program will be coordinating with the National Dairy Authority, the Philippine Carabao Center and the Cooperative Development Authority in incorporating fresh milk and other fresh-milk based food products in the meals of children who are part of the national feeding program.

Apart from the LGUs and national government agencies, the government is also encouraging the participation of the private sector, people's and non-government organizations, corporations and the like, who want to be part of the implementation of the program.

"Many of our friends from the private sector have already been doing this initiative even before the inception of this bill. In fact, they are also part of the crafting process and we want to continue working with them in this advocacy," Escudero said.

According to latest data from the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), there are 6.3 million undernourished kids in the Philippines as of 2015. Of this number, 2.2 million are underweight, 3.4 million are stunted and 715,000 are wasted.

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