Senate Bill No. 1031: Pagkaing Pinoy Para Sa Mga Bata

“You cannot feed the mind on an empty stomach.” This is a truth that millions of Filipinos know and feel all too well. Every day, millions of Filipino children trek to school, underfed and undernourished, yet expected to fully absorb the lessons of the day.

In a study called “The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012”, conducted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), a total of 16 million Filipinos were considered undernourished 2010 to 2012, even as the number of chronically undernourished people dropped in all other Southeast Asian countries. Despite our growing economy, there are more underfed people in the Philippines today than there were two decades ago.

Meanwhile, another recent study on “the role of early childhood nourishment and health in connection with human capital accumulation”, published by Dartmouth University in 2012, revealed that the long-term detrimental effects of childhood hunger have a greater impact on school children than the effects of substandard schooling, infrastructure, classrooms, and textbooks.

This is perhaps one of the main reasons why Filipino children continue to lag behind our Asian neighbors in standardized tests. How can we expect them to do well in school when we have not given their brains the proper nourishment and fuel for the tasks that lie ahead of them?

Thus, the proposed “Pagkaing Pinoy para sa Batang Pinoy” bill seeks to alleviate childhood malnutrition in the Philippines through a feeding program for public kindergarten and elementary school children. It will promote the health of children who are most in need, by providing regular and free access to nutritious food within a safe and clean school and community environment.

The benefits of the bill do not end there. To enhance the social value of this proposed measure, the feeding program will utilize, when possible and available, locally-sourced and locally-produced food products in order also support local farmers and farming communities, and thus provide direct support to local agricultural communities. By providing a regular market for the products of local farmers and small entrepreneurs, this feeding program will help address not only child malnutrition but also poverty in the countryside.

The bill will entail partnerships with the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Health (DOH), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the Department of Education (DepEd), and local government units.



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