15 August 2014
Sen.Pia backs feeding program in public schools
Senator Pia S. Cayetano has expressed support to proposals seeking to institutionalize a supplementary feeding program in the public school system to help address malnutrition among young Filipino children and youth.
The Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture, Cayetano led a public hearing on Thursday (August 14) to take up various bills establishing a nutrition program in government-run schools from kindergarten up to elementary and high school.
Stressing the link between a child’s health and learning ability, she said the government’s direct intervention to provide nutritious food among young students at the school level would also help encourage better class attendance and learning. A child who is always sick and hungry would have less capacity to absorb lessons and would be the likeliest candidate to fail in class and ultimately drop out of school, she pointed out.
The measures tackled during the hearing were: Senate Bill Numbers 79 (authored by Sen. Grace Poe), 101 (Sen. Loren Legarda), 202 (Sen. Sonny Angara), 390 and 1323 (Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago), 1031 (Sen. Bam Aquino), and 2309 (Sen. Vicente Sotto III).
The senator said it was necessary to establish a supplementary feeding program, especially in areas where poverty and malnutrition rates are high alongside efforts to reform the basic education curriculum.
The legislation would also complement current government strategies to directly address extreme poverty and hunger, such as the Conditional Cash Transfer program, which provides social assistance for the poorest households, and the community day care feeding program of the Department of Social Work and Development.
Citing results from the 2013 National Nutrition Survey, she said the prevalence of children aged 0-5 who are ‘wasted’ (too thin for their height) stood at 8%, underweight at 20% and ‘stunted’ (too short for their age) at 30% as of last year.
One of the country’s commitments under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is to halve the proportion of underweight children from 27.3% in 1991 to 13.6% by 2015. #
Photo: Senate Committee on Education, Arts and Culture Chair Sen. Pia Cayetano with Sens. Grace Poe and Sonny Angara at a recent public hearing on bills seeking to integrate a supplementary feeding program in the public school system.