Feeding the schoolchild

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014


LEARNING wouldn't be very effective if a child is frequently sick or if the stomach keeps on rumbling during class. While nourishment of the mind is the priority of schools, it has also been their concern to provide proper physical nourishment for their pupils.

The Department of Education (Deped)-Davao City thus, is set to implement what they call the school-based feeding program (SBFP) on August 11 which intends to curb malnutrition in the pupils of public schools in the city by 70 percent. They will be launching the SBFP along with what they refer to as the local implementing partners comprised of private organizations and other government agencies.

Division Feeding Coordinator Melornita Macarayon and Division Nutrition Coordinator Maricel Ando told Sun.Star Davao in an interview that the SBFP has long been project of the national office of Deped but it will be the first time that Davao City has acquired the budget. Davao City has an allocation of P7 million out from the P1 billion national budget. It is intended for 3,703 students in 46 schools who will be fed for 120 days. The program will be implemented by the school principals, district supervisors, coordinators, nurses and the parents preferable those who are members of the Parents and Teachers Association (PTA). Each student will then have a P16 lunch budget daily.

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Macarayon, however, said that the budget was not directly allocated to the Deped as it was coursed through the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

“Dili pa direct sa Deped ang budget kay gi-course through pa siya sa DSWD. Mao pud ni ang reason nganong gamay pa ang budget. Pero hopefully, by next year mudako na ang budget kay maapil na gyud ang program sa General Appropriations Act (GAA),” Macarayon said.

Other than the budget not being direct allocation to Deped, Macarayon said that the budgeting was based on the 2011 data.

Ando said, “Para sa food, naa mi ipa-prepare nga 20-day cycle menu and usually ginapa-incorporate namo ang malunggay sa menu ug lain pang fruits and vegetables. So ang mga parents na bahala magimbento-imbento sa menu basta meron talagang malunggay.”

Macarayon said the feeding will be administered by the parents and they will be conducting the program either at the schools’ feeding centers or a barangay facility for those schools that don’t have any feeding centers.

But while the SBFP is yet to be implemented, Macarayon said that Busog, Lusog, Talino (BLT) Program has already been operational since 2009 and this is a partnership with what they call the local implementing partners (LIPs). For this year, a total of 77 schools with 40 pupils from each school will be the beneficiary of the BLT Program.

“BLT program is still part of the SBFP but its sponsors are different as it is initiated by private schools and organizations or companies. It will serve as an augmentation for the Deped and DSWD-initiated SBFP. Mostly the LIPs are from private schools and companies. Private schools have been directed by Deped to conduct feeding programs while companies support the BLT program as part of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects,” Macarayon said.

Ando, meanwhile, said the BLT program last year had a significant impact in curbing malnutrition noting that Bangoy district, which had the highest percentage incidence of severely-wasted and wasted elementary pupils at the start of school year 2013-2014 with 14.7 percent, had decreased its cases to 1.85 percent after the implementation of the BLT program.

Deped-Davao City has also implemented the Gulayan sa Paaralan project where students and teachers in public schools are encouraged practice backyard farming.

“Students and teachers are also encouraged to cultivate their own fruits and vegetables so that they could have their own supply. In some schools, this is the project for their home economics class,” Ando said.

Apart from the Gulayan sa Paaralan project, Ando said that all public schools are also directed to plant at least 50 malunggay trees saying that since the 20-day cycle menu will be incorporating malunggay recipes, schools should have a stable supply of malunggay.

School canteens too are directed not only to serve nutritious food, they should also conduct feeding programs. Macarayon said school canteens or cafeterias should allot 35 percent of their yearly income to conduct feeding programs.

But Macarayon and Ando are not yet certain how the SBFP will fare this year as they are still testing the waters especially that it will be the first time that Deped-Davao City will be implementing it.

“We are expecting that the implementation will be ‘ningas-kugon’ since majority of the people who will implement it are the parents of students. We can’t expect them to be there all the time since it is also a volunteer work. But if the principals, district supervisors and nurses are also hands-on with the implementation then it could be a good turnout,” Macarayon said.

They are positive though that this year’s implementation will open more opportunities to learn for the next school year’s implementation.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 30, 2014.

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