By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has vowed to fast-track the implementation of its supplementary feeding program (SFP) amid calls to include the families with malnourished children in the list of beneficiaries who will receive the second tranche of Social Amelioration Program (SAP) emergency subsidies.
DSWD-Program Management Bureau (PMB) Sectoral Programs Division Chief Miramel Laxa said preparations are underway for the implementation of the feeding program. Previous guidelines are being modified, taking into account limitations on people movement and physical distancing as part of quarantine protocols being enforced during the national health emergency.
In mid-March, the DSWD decided to temporarily suspend "some activities of its programs and services" that require meeting or gathering of beneficiaries and other stakeholders, which include the SFP.
Laxa said they have "identified some strategies" on how to proceed with the implementation of the SFP so as not to compromise the safety of the children, as she assured the members of House Committee on Welfare of Children, chaired by Tingog Sinirangan partylist Rep. Yedda Marie Romualdez.
She said the implementation of the SFP will be in coordination with the barangay health workers, child development workers and the rest of LGU personnel.
"Tinitingnan na po natin yan (we are looking at) with the help of National Nutrition Council, the DOST-FNRI (Department of Science and Technology-Food and Nutrition Research Institute), as well as with the DOH (Department of Health) on how we could test and effectively supplementary feeding program given the COVID-19 pandemic," Laxa said.
Laguna 2nd district Rep. Ruth Hernandez earlier asked the DSWD to prioritize the families with malnourished children in the second phase implementation of the SAP.
She said data from the barangay nutrition scholars may serve as basis for the provision of SAP grants to families with malnourished families.
SFP is the provision of food in addition to the regular meals to children currently enrolled in the day care centers as part of the DSWD’s contribution to the early childhood care and development (ECCD) program of the government, the DSWD said.
Under the program, school children are given food supplementation in a form of hot meals during snack times or mealtimes five days a week for 120 days.
In his opening remarks at the conclusion of the DSWD’s 69th founding anniversary celebration in Quezon City on January 29, 2020, DSWD Secretary Rolando Bautista said more than 845,000 children or 45 percent out of the more than 1.8 M children have been served by the SFP, as of September 2019.