Senator Grace Poe on Wednesday, May 12, urged the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Education (DepEd) to take cue from community pantries to implement its feeding programs.
Poe said the two agencies have almost P10 billion in their budget allocations for this year that they can use to put up “food pantries”, to serve meals to school children.
She said the beneficiaries of the child feeding programs could be expanded if the DSWD, and the DepEd would learn from the success of community pantries. They could partner with local government units and non-government organizations, such as church groups, civil society and business associations, she said.
“The community pantry experience shows that there is tremendous goodwill among our people just waiting to be tapped for a great cause, and addressing child hunger is definitely one,” Poe, who earlier filed a resolution to commend community pantry organizers, said in a statement.
“The funds can be leveraged to extend the reach of the feeding programs,” she stressed.
She said such effort “will relieve teachers of non-teaching work, mobilize volunteers, and promote transparency in funds use.”
Poe said that under the 2021 national budget, the DSWD has P3.83 billion for its Supplemental Feeding Program to serve about two million children in day care and early child care community facilities.
The DepEd, meanwhile, has P6 billion for its School-Based Feeding Program, which has a goal of feeding 1,775,349 children with nutritional deficiencies this year.
The lawmaker noted that the suspension of face-to-face classes during the pandemic is also affecting the program’s implementation.
The DepEd and DSWD only delivered food to the intended beneficiaries last year amid the lockdowns, with DSWD reporting some 1.7 million beneficiaries served.
Poe said that the feeding programs must continue, stressing that “hunger is a lethal effect of the pandemic.”