As part of his Comprehensive Education Reform Agenda, and in an effort to eliminate child hunger and malnutrition, House Ways and Means Committee Chair Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd District) has filed a bill guaranteeing access to nutritious school meals for all kindergarten and grade school students.
“The most critical part of cognitive development is childhood, and when children are hungry, we cannot expect them to develop their full intellectual potential,” Salceda said. “That’s why we must consider child nutrition as part of our investment in education. Pointless kasing papasukin sa eskwela, damihan ang subject, tapos yung bata, gutom pala.”
Under Salceda’s bill, the Department of Education will implement a school-based feeding program for a minimum of one hundred twenty feeding days per school year to be done five days a week with one feeding activity per school day.
“Under my bill, children will at least be able to receive one nutritious meal while in school. The bill will also provide vitamin and mineral supplements, and milk products,” Salceda added.
The bill also encourages food production in schools and the sourcing of foodstuff for feeding programs from local farmers.
“In a sense, my bill also ensures a sure market for farmer produce. Nakakapanghinayang kapag nakikita mong nag-overshoot and production ng ilang gulay, Kung pwede naming gamitin a feeding program.” Salceda said.
Salceda’s proposal also encourages the DepEd to tap persons trained by the Technical Education and Skills Development Academy (TESDA) on food preparation, handling, and storage.
“In that way, one of its positive consequences is job creation and training on child nutrition,” Salceda said.
“The 2018 Expanded National Nutrition Survey of the United Nations Children’s Fund shows alarming undernutrition rates among Filipino children. Stunting is declining slowly, but the decline is marginal, from 34 percent in 2003 to 30 percent in 2018. This affects some 3.5 million children under 5 years of age,” Salceda’s explanatory note for the bill says.
“While just over 5 percent of children were wasted, the numerical equivalent of this rate is around 650,000 children. Among them, some 300,000 are with the severest form of malnutrition and require treatment. The Philippines also has the highest rate of low birth weight – 1 in 5 children – in ASEAN.”
“These results correlate with the country’s performance in the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa), which covered 79 countries, where Filipino students fared worst in reading comprehension and second-lowest in both mathematical and scientific literacy. Underdevelopment of the brain and the body tend to result in poor performance in reading, math, science, and all other education metrics.”
“As I said, we will move towards the Finnish model of education, where workloads are light, teachers teach well, students are job-ready, and school meals are guaranteed absolutely free,” Salceda said.
Earlier, Salceda has filed the Teacher Empowerment Act to lighten teachers’ administrative load and improve the quality of teaching, the K to 12 Reform Act to make students more job-ready, and the Meister Schools Act to close the country’s highly-technical skills gap.