Senator Sonny Angara pushes to amend Republic Act (RA) 11037 or the “Masustansyang Pagkain Para sa Batang Pilipino Act,” which institutionalized the national feeding program for undernourished children in public daycare, kindergarten, and elementary schools.
Angara has a bill in the Senate that seeks to expand the coverage of the School-Based Feeding Program (SBFP) to include learners in secondary schools to further address under-nutrition among the country’s students.
Under his bill, the SBFP will now include learners from Grades 7 to 12 or junior and senior high school. The SBFP provides all the covered learners with at least one fortified meal for 120 days in a year.
“We want to include junior and senior high school students in the SBFP because they are also affected by food scarcity which is a hindrance to their learning,” Angara said.
The Senator cited a World Bank report that for nearly 30 years, there have been almost no improvements in the prevalence of under-nutrition in the Philippines. The report ranks the Philippines in fifth spot among countries in the East Asia and Pacific region with the highest prevalence of stunting and among the 10 countries in the world with the highest number of stunted children.
The report states that poverty has also affected the education of many Filipino children who end up dropping out of school because of hunger. Noting that lack of sufficient food remains a problem among many school-aged children, Angara said this issue should be addressed immediately to remove obstacles to the development of children.
“Studies have consistently shown that hunger has a correlation to students’ ability to learn. This is on top of the still nagging issue of stunting among Filipino children, which is why we must constantly find ways to provide them with proper nutrition in all stages of development,” Angara stressed.
He added that “children who go to school hungry are inevitably placed at a disadvantage over their well-fed counterparts, and we are all aware of how difficult it is to function when one is hungry and it’s no different with students when it comes to learning on an empty stomach.”
Signed into law by former President Rodrigo Duterte in 2018, RA 11037 aims to address under-nutrition among public school children. (PNA)