As part of its efforts to keep children well-nourished for the rest of the school year, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has started to transfer the more than P3.6 billion budget of the Supplementary Feeding Program (SFP) for Children to local government units (LGUs) for this year’s program implementation which kicked-off on July 2.
In just a month’s time, some 341,179 children in day care centers and supervised neighborhood play (SNP) have been initially served under the SFP. For this year, more than 2.05 million children in 1,361 LGUs nationwide will be covered by the program.
SFP augments the feeding program in LGU-managed day care centers and SNP areas using indigenous food and/or locally-produced food equivalent to 1/3 of Recommended Energy and Nutrient Intake (RENI).
Food supplementation comes in the form of hot meals served during a break/snack time in the morning or in the afternoon. The feeding program is being managed by the parents based on a prepared meal cycle.
Children beneficiaries will be weighed at the start of the feeding, three months thereafter, and after the completion of 120 feeding days cycle to determine improvement and sustenance in their nutritional status.
SFP also improves the knowledge, attitude, and practices of children, parents, and caregivers through intensified nutrition and health education.
“Proper nutrition is crucial to the growth and development of children specifically the 0-5 year old age bracket which are the formative years,” DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said.
LGU, business sector participation
Since SFP was implemented in 2010, the DSWD has noted the important role of LGUs in the program.
Aside from the DSWD funding support, local officials also find a way to intensify the implementation of the program in their respective jurisdictions like engaging partnerships with the business sector.
In Region I, for example, the LGU of San Nicolas in Pangasinan led by Municipal Mayor Rebecca Mejica Saldivar implements the feeding program year-round with the support of private individuals, companies and groups.
As part of its corporate social responsibility, the San Roque Power Corporation provided milk, biscuits, cookies, champorado, and noodles, as additional food for the day care children. The corporation also sponsored the construction of some day care centers and donated books for the children.
On the other hand, free transportation is being shouldered by the LGU to deliver goods to all day care centers especially those located in the mountainous areas.
Mayor Saldivar believes that a progressive community starts with healthy, bright, and responsible children.
She believes that the SFP is a strong weapon to fight malnutrition among day care children in their municipality.
Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer (MSWDO) Delia Dalutag narrated that some day care children from far flung areas are now able to eat nutritious meals through SFP.
This was echoed by Editha Pascua, 52, widow, from Brgy. Malilion, who shared that her youngest son, 3 year-old Akihiro’s nutritional status has greatly improved because of the feeding program.
The Pascua Family is also a beneficiary of Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program or the Conditional Cash Transfer Program.
Editha said that because of government programs, such as SFP and Pantawid Pamilya, Akihiro is growing up healthy and active.
Likewise, in CALABARZON, of the 114 LGUs in the region, 22 are already starting with the implementation while the rest are undergoing preparation for the start of the feeding sessions this August.
Mila Española, Batangas City Social Welfare and Development Officer said, “Since the start of SFP, the children are no longer craving for junk food. Their parents also maintain backyard gardening of vegetables and fruit-bearing trees to sustain the nutritional needs of their children.”
Rhoda Bautista, Municipal Social Welfare and Development Officer of Silang, Cavite pointed out that aside from good nutrition, the program also promotes proper hygiene among children.
“They have developed the habit of washing their hands before and after eating, and brushing their teeth thrice a day,” she said.
In Tagum City, Davao del Norte, on the other hand, Sally C. Balili, the LGU SFP focal person, shared that the city council has issued City Ordinance No. 647 Series of 2013 known as “The Day Care Teachers Code of Tagum City,” which enforces the on-time submission of weekly and monthly consolidated supplementary feeding reports detailing the daily feeding in their day care centers.
“Ninety percent of day care enters here in Tagum City were also able to put up their own kitchen/cooking and dining area from the savings that they have incurred,” Balili said.
She explained that instead of buying vegetables, the parents now use the harvest from the vegetable gardens they have cultivated within the premises of the day care centers. Maintaining a vegetable garden in all day care centers around the city is mandated by the local government’s program dubbed as Gulayan sa Paaralan at Day Care Centers.
DSWD Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman said that with the modest gains, SFP is slowly bearing fruits, an indication that the huge budget allotted for the program redound to the benefit of the children. ###