The government intends to distribute cash subsidies or food packs to select infants and pregnant women to improve their nutrition amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The latest dietary supplement program for the concerned beneficiaries has been endorsed by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) during a meeting Friday, according to presidential spokesman Harry Roque.
“The Inter-Agency Task Force adopted today, October 2, a dietary supplementation program for infants ages 6-23 months and nutritionally at-risk pregnant women through the provision of cash or food packs amid the COVID-19 health crisis,” Roque said.
“This forms part of improving the healthcare of the citizens and a means to eliminating hunger which has been aggravated by the pandemic,” he said.
The amount and other details of the new nutrition project have yet to be released by the Palace.
The government’s new program came after a survey showed more than seven million Filipino families experienced involuntary hunger in the past three months.
In the Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey last month, the families who experienced hunger due to lack of food reached a record high of 30.7 percent, or an estimated 7.6 million households.
The figure is higher than the 20.9 percent recorded in July.
Following the survey results on hunger incidence, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the government has started to calibrate the “National Food Policy” to address hunger incidence especially during the pandemic.
The policy, that includes initiatives for ending hunger, achieving food security, improving nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture, will be formally launched on World Food Day on October 16.
“We want to come out with a policy framework that will not only address the immediate impact of the pandemic on hunger, but will also provide a long-term strategy to eradicate hunger by 2030,” Nograles, head of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Zero Hunger, said.
He said the Bayanihan 2 law also includes various programs to alleviate hunger such as cash-for-work programs, emergency subsidies, and funds for small businesses to enhance the income of families as well as promote economic recovery.
The government’s supplement feeding program will also push through when classes start on October 5 through alternative learning methods, according to Nograles.
Under Republic Act 11037, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Education (DepEd) are mandated to implement a national feeding program for undernourished children in public day care centers and public schools from Kindergarten to Grade 6.