By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The House Special Committee on Food Security has passed a substitute bill seeking the implementation of a nationwide supplemental feeding program that would benefit infants and pregnant and lactating mothers.
The panel approved the measure which substituted House Bills 247, 767, 3419 and 3937, authored by Reps. Gabriel Bordado, Emmeline Aglipay-Villar, Jorge Banal, and Kaka Bag-ao, respectively.
“There is a need to institutionalize the Supplemental Feeding Program under the National Nutrition Council (NNC) supervision to complement the national school feeding program which aims to promote the right to health of the people,” Negros Occidental Rep. Leo Rafael Cueva, chairman of the panel said.
Under the bill, the authors stressed that a nationwide feeding program should be developed, created and implemented to alleviate poverty and hunger in the country.
“The feeding program shall also serve as a crucial investment in human capital that will considerably impact on economic productivity, growth and national development ” they said.
The bill provides that under the Supplemental Feeding Program, the NNC, in consultation with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), is tasked to create a system of distribution of food packets, through the barangay health workers, for those targeted by the system.
The food packets shall supplement the nutritional and dietary needs of children ages 6 to 36 months old.
The second component of the NNC Supplemental Feeding Program shall be the Feeding Program for Pregnant and Lactating Women. The NNC, in consultation with the Department of Health (DOH) shall ensure that nutritionally at-risk pregnant and lactating women shall be given the proper meals for the survival growth and development of their unborn child and newborn.
The bill mandates government agencies to establish a liberalized mode of procurement for the feeding program, subject to the approval of the Government Procurement Policy Board.
Procurement for the feeding program shall encourage the participation of local and community-based producers, suppliers or service contractors, or both.
The funds needed to implement the Act shall be included in the annual General Appropriations Act (GAA) under the budget of the NNC.