Senators eye P2 billion more for kids’ supplemental feeding

Cecille Suerte Felipe - The Philippine Star
Senators eye P2 billion more for kids� supplemental feeding
In this undated file photo, children participate in a feeding program.
File photo

MANILA, Philippines — Senators are eyeing an additional P2 billion to finance the government’s supplementary feeding program next year to meet the nutritional needs of 1.8 million kids in public daycare and development centers.

The government’s free meals should be more accessible and efficiently distributed to ensure that the nutritional needs of kids in public daycare and development centers are met, according to Sen. Grace Poe.

“More children are fueled for learning and development when they can count on nutritious, free meals,” Poe said.

“There should be no letup in this initiative to provide our kids free meals, and we will make sure this is put at the fore in budget discussions,” she added.

The senator made her call as she supported the Senate’s proposed higher funding for the supplementary feeding program from P4 billion to P6 billion in 2024.

“The funding for nutritious meals for our toddlers and kids is always worth fighting for in every budget season,” she said.

“Hopefully, with the budget, we can make the program more accessible and efficient,” she added.

The government’s feeding program being implemented by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) covers children three to five years old in supervised neighborhood and child development centers run by local government units.

The feeding program is also a component of the DSWD’s contribution to the government’s Early Childhood Care and Development Program, and is in accordance with Republic Act 11037, or the Masustansyang Pagkain para sa Batang Pilipino Act, which Poe authored.

The senator underscored the need to provide assistance to children not only in their first 1,000 days, but as they grow older to help in their proper physical and mental development.

“It is important to have the feeding program to higher grade levels, but the brain is really developed from conception until age two, that’s the critical stage,” she said. “Maybe, at the proper time, we can evaluate again the program to see how we can strengthen it.”

With a limited government budget, partnering with the private sector for the source of food supplies at lower costs should also be extensively explored, according to Poe.

She said that for a more efficient rollout of the supplemental feeding program, the DSWD should work closely with barangay officials in charge of the daily operations.

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