P3.87 BILLION BUDGET FOR DEPED’S FEEDING PROGRAM
The Senate will increase by almost three-fold to P3.87 billion the budget for the school-based feeding program of the Department of Education (DepEd) for 2015 to ensure that no undernourished child will be left behind, Senator Chiz Escudero announced.
The P2.5 billion increase would allow public schools to accommodate 1.28 million kids more to the program that gives healthy hot meals to malnourished kindergarten and grade school students, Escudero, chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance, said.
The National Expenditure Program submitted by Malacanang only covers 100 percent of the “severely wasted” or children with severe acute malnutrition, and only 8 percent of the “wasted” in the nutrition scale.
But under the Senate amendment, Escudero said, both categories will get 100 percent coverage to increase the total number of beneficiaries to 1.92 million, with the bulk coming from the “wasted” category at 1.38 million.
“As amended by the Senate Committee on Finance, it will cover 100 percent of the ‘severely wasted’ and 100 percent of the ‘wasted,’” Escudero explained during Wednesday’s floor deliberation on DepEd’s spending plan.
The increase, he pointed out, will guarantee that “no undernourished child will be left behind” in the government’s school feeding program.
“Pati pondo kasi para sa pagkain ng mga bata sa paaralan ay kulang din. There is also such a thing as budget malnutrition. So dinagdagan namin ng pondo,” Escudero said.
“Sa edukasyon kasi maraming needs which cry out for attention like schools lacking classrooms or classes without teachers but one cry that is hard to ignore comes from children who attend school on an empty stomach,” the senator explained. “Some backlogs can wait. The hungry students can’t.”
If the DepEd’s amended school feeding budget of P3.9 billion will be added to the P3.36 billion that the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) will get next year for a similar feeding program, “then the total money available for this activity next year is about P7.3 billion,” Escudero said.
For its feeding program, the DSWD targets to give one meal for four months to some 2.05 million pupils under 5 years old who are enrolled in daycare centers or neighborhood nurseries. /MP