Senator Grace Poe wants to team up with Valenzuela City Congressman Win Gatchalian in the ongoing legislative efforts in both the Senate and the House of Representatives to institutionalize a nationwide feeding program that will address hunger and malnutrition of students in the country.
The senator said pushing for a law to create a nationwide feeding program will require efforts and insights from other lawmakers in the Lower House like Gatchalian.
Gatchalian authored House Bill No. 5348, to be known as the “Nutri-Skwela Act of 2015”, which seeks the creation of the Philippine Basic Education Nutrition and Performance Acceleration Program to address the nutritional and dietary needs of young students.
“Kayamanan ng ating bansa ang ating populasyon,at kailangan ng edukasyon upang malinang ang kayamanang ito. Para ganahan ang mga mag-aaral, kailangan natin ng feeding program sa buong bansa,” Poe said.
“Upang maitulak ito, kailangan ko ng tulong ng mambabatas at may kasanayan sa mga feeding program kagaya ni Congressman Gatchalian natin,” she added.
Poe, the author of Senate Bill No. 79 or the “Sustansiya sa Batang Pilipino Act of 2013”, issued the statement during her visit at the facility where meals in Valenzuela City’s feeding program is prepared.
The senator said the feeding program of Valenzuela City, which started during Gatchalian’s term as mayor of Valenzuela City in 2012, can be used as a model on how the proposed national feeding program will run in every city and municipality in the country.
Valenzuela City’s “K to 6 In-School Feeding Program”, Poe said, sets an example on how local government units or LGUs can tap volunteers and non-government organizations or NGOs to feed malnourished students.
For his part, Gatchalian said he is willing to cooperate with Poe and other lawmakers in pushing for a nationwide feeding program.
The former Valenzuela City mayor said the feeding program helped eradicate malnutrition in children in the city and improved the school performance of undernourished kids.
When it began in school year 2012 to 2013, the “K to 6 In-School Feeding Program” benefited over 6,000 students from Kinder to Grade 6 in 39 public schools in Valenzuela City.
For the current academic year, the “K to 6 In-School Feeding Program” cooks and distributes meals every day to 8,269 daycare center pupils and 7,116 underweight kinder and elementary students in all Valenzuela City public schools.
To elevate the benefits of feeding program nationwide, Gatchalian filed the “Nutri-Skwela Act of 2015” to create a Performance Acceleration Program to ensure that at least one meal on each school day of the academic year is made available free-of-charge to all children enrolled in daycare pupils, kindergarten, and Grades 1 to 6 in all public educational institutions nationwide.
Under the program, children whose daily academic program lasts for more than five hours should be eligible for two meals free of charge.
The program will also empower LGUs to actively participate in the program through the City and Municipal Nutrition Committees, which shall be mainly responsible for the procurement of food and for the logistical and organizational concerns of the program.
The bill also seeks to expand the functions of a central body to be known as the National Nutrition Council, which is responsible for the overall formation, implementation, and evaluation of the program. (Tim Alcantara)