Manila, Philippines – To improve their performance in school, more than 63,000 undernourished schoolchildren who have difficulty learning because they come to class on an empty stomach continue to benefit from the breakfast feeding program being implemented by Department of Education (DepED) for the school year 2011-2012.
According to Education Secretary Armin Luistro, the feeding program aims to address undernutrition and short-term hunger syndrome among public schoolchildren who do not eat breakfast and walk long distance to reach school.
“This is the most vulnerable group who finds it hard to pay attention to the lessons in class because of hunger and are in danger of dropping out if no intervention is made,“ Luistro explained.
The DepEd chief added that the program initially implemented in Pangasinan, Bohol, and Lanao del Norte will be expanded to more divisions during the school year.
Based on the prevalence of undernutrition in these divisions and the capability of school heads to manage and administer the program, the new beneficiaries are schools from the divisions of Quirino, Zambales, Batangas, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Sorsogon, Kabankalan City, Bacolod City, Negros Oriental, Leyte, Zamboanga del Norte, Davao Oriental, Sultan Kudarat, Surigao del Norte, Kalinga, Maguindanao, and Quezon City.
Luistro said that the target is to bring back to good nutritional status at least 70 percent of the beneficiaries at the end of the 100 to 120 feeding days. “Our specific objective is to ensure 85 to 100 percent attendance among the target pupils and improve their health and nutrition values and behavior,“ he added.
Since it was implemented in 1997, the breakfast feeding program continues to shift to address a more serious problem of under-nutrition, which is a global concern because it commonly causes death among children. (Ina Hernando Malipot)