With the school year that has just started, many parents are again facing the dilemma of ensuring that their children are getting the right nutrients that they need. Lucky are those who have the means to buy their children the right foods. But the burden doubles for those who don’t.

In the Cordillera Administrative Region, around 3,578 school children have been identified as severely wasted based on the 2011 data of the Department of Education. Severely wasted children are seen to have massive fat and muscle tissue loss. These children are the target of the School Based Feeding Program (SBFP) of the Department of Education (DepEd) and Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

The SBFP aims to provide hot meals to children following the standardized recipes using indigenous ingredients like malunggay in a 20 day cycle menu for 120 feeding days.

“Based on the menu, the children will gain 300 calories per day which may give extra energy for their active lifestyle, especially for the severely wasted children.” DSWD-CAR Nutritionist Marcia Espinueva shared.

Before the SBFP, the DSWD has already been implementing the Supplementary Feeding Program (SFP) for Day Care School Children in partnership with the Local Government Units.

Baguio City Social Welfare and Development Officer Liza Bulayungan said that it was in 2012 when the first phase of SFP was implemented in the city. “There are around 4,170 during that time. In 2013, we have identified 4,457 children for the feeding program. After one cycle of SFP, 88% of the 367 underweight children have shown improved nutritional status. And this improvement has encouraged the Local Government to continuously implement the feeding program after the support from the DSWD has been pulled out”, Bulayungan added.

“Napakalaki ng impact [ng SFP] sa mga bata, lalo na yung iba walang baon,”Brgy. Aurora Hill Proper Day Care Worker Agustina Owindo shared. “Ada aglaladut nga ubbing ta awan balon da. Ngem di ada iti feeding [program], awan ti makitam nga aglaladut gapo iti bisin (There are inactive children because they do not have snacks with them, but because of the feeding [program] you will not see hungry and inactive children.), Owindo added.

The Supplementary Feeding Program does not only promote healthy feeding among the children, but it also encourages cooperation between the Government and the parents. “Bukod sa binibigay ng LGU, nagcocontribute din ang mga parents para idagdag sa kakainin ng kanilang mga anak. Bukod pa dyan, trinain natin ang mga parents para matuto sila ng tamang pag prepare ng menu at pagkain kaya naman sila na mismo ang nagpreprepare ng mga ito”, Bulayungan shared.

Aside for the feeding program, parents like Lauriana Velasquez has volunteered to help Teacher Augustina in taking care of the Day Care children.

“Tulong at libangan na rin yung pagtulong ko sa Day Care [Center]. At dahil sa Day Care, natuto yung anak ko na kumain ng pagkain na ayaw n’ya dati. Na-enganyo ang mga bata na kumain at natuto sila na dapat healthy yung pagkain nila”, Mommy Lauriana shared.

While for the Day Care children like Raven and Medz, the feeding program helps them enjoy their stay in the center. “Marami po kaming ginagawa, nagsusulat, kumakain. Gusto ko po lahat ng pagkain para mabusog po ako at tumaba, Raven shared. While Medz said “Gusto ko po yung mga pinapakain saamin, [kasi] pag gutom ako, ayokong maglaro”.

DSWD-CAR OIC Regional Director Janet P. Armas also encourages parents and other potential partners to support the said feeding program. “The Government recognizes the importance of good nutrition in the academic performance of our learners, and we will be happy to work with the parents and other partners in improving the nutrition status of our children”, Director Armas shared.

As of May 2014, the program targets 45,100 children who will benefit from the Supplementary Feeding Program. While the School Based Feeding Program is set to be implemented on July 2014 to December 2014 in all schools in the region that have been identified to have enrolled severely wasted children. Around Php 6.8 M is allotted for the implementation of the said program. #DSWD-CAR, SOCIAL MARKETING UNIT, NFGV

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