Only 27% of Filipino students benefited from gov’t feeding programs in 2022 – WFP 

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
Only 27% of Filipino students benefited from gov�t feeding programs in 2022 � WFP 
Children join a feeding program at a school in Marawi City in 2017.
The STAR / John Unson, file

MANILA, Philippines — Little more than a quarter of Filipino schoolchildren are covered by the government’s meal programs, according to a new report by the World Food Programme on the state of the world’s school feeding initiatives.

In its “State of School Feeding Worldwide 2022” report released Wednesday, the WFP bared that only an estimated 27% or 3.5 million students in the Philippines benefited from government-led school meal programs in 2022.

Despite the meager coverage, however, this was already a significant jump from the 16% recorded in 2021 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, where only 2.3 million students were reached by school feeding initiatives.

The Philippines also ranked in the bottom half among lower middle-income countries in terms of the percentage of children covered by school meals. Among the 37 lower-middle-income countries included in the study, the Philippines ranked 22nd.

The WFP’s report measures the extent to which schools around the world have overcome the impact of the pandemic on school feeding programs, which were almost halted completely in 2020.

“The number of children being reached by school meal programs now exceeds pre-pandemic levels and the possible damage resulting from school closures is being repaired,” the report stated.

School feeding is also considered “one of the largest and most widespread social safety nets in the world,” making school meals a significant tool for the government to address malnutrition, according to the report.

To increase the provision of nutritional meals among children, the report recommended for school meal programs to “purchase more local food and match quality diets to local production.”

The budget for the Department of Education's school feeding program in 2022 was slashed by half, going from P6 billion in 2021 to P3.3 billion in 2022.

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