Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones reported an improved performance in the implementation of the School-Based Feeding Program (SBFP), as well as the plan to increase the number of its target beneficiaries during the first Senate Committee on Finance Hearing on the DepEd’s proposed 2018 budget on September 18.
The Education chief mentioned that in 2016, the SBFP served 1,800,884 learners out of the 1,918,464 Severely Wasted (SW) and Wasted (W) target beneficiaries from Kindergarten to Grade 6 nationwide.
Noting the success of the program over the past years, DepEd plans to expand the number of beneficiaries under its 2018 proposed budget. To accommodate these additional student beneficiaries, DepEd increased the allocated budget for the said program from last year’s P3.9 billion to P5.3 billion.
The SBFP, headed by the DepEd’s Bureau of Learner Support Services-School Health Division (BLSS-SHD), addresses the problem on undernutrition among public school children. It aims to boost classroom attendance by 85% to 100%. It also aims to improve the nutritional status of the beneficiaries by at least 70% at the end of at least 120 feeding days—with a budget of P18 per child per feeding day—and improve the children’s health and nutritional values and behavior.
Secretary Briones mentioned that schools, especially in rural areas, are going the extra mile in the implementation of the SBFP: “Naglilibot ako sa mga schools natin, makikita mo lalo na sa rural areas na talagang they have their own vegetable gardens and fish ponds, at yung iba, meron pang maliit na rice fields.”
Secretary Briones also cited that in the case of schools in urban areas, further efforts must be conducted, “Pero yung ibang pangangailangan sa ibang schools, like urban-based schools, medyo kumplikado ‘yun kasi sa pagbili ng mga supplies, ingredients, etc. So dapat yun ang i-work out.”
“Under SBFP, makikita natin at mababantayan ang weight and performance ng learners, because, of course, there is a correlation between nutrition and level of capacity to learn,” Briones added.
Moreover, Senator Grace Poe, co-sponsor of Senate Bill No. 1279, or An Act Creating a National School Feeding Program to Combat Hunger and Undernutrition for all Basic Education Students, expressed her full support toward the expansion of the SBFP.
According to Poe, the major programs of DepEd will be put to waste if the students will not be able to maximize their learning capacities because of hunger. She further cited reports that schools where students receive free food tend to have better performance in class.
Furthermore, assessments of DepEd indicate that 73% of the undernourished student beneficiaries reached the normal nutrition status at the end of the 120 feeding days, and have also demonstrated improvement in school attendance and class participation. # Source – www.deped.gov.ph