Lacson: Ensuring the health and nutrition of learners despite the pandemic


AMID the health crisis brought by the spread of Covid-19, the Department of Education launched the School Year 2020-2021 under the new normal mode of education. Employing various distance learning modalities such as printed modules, radio or TV-based instruction, and online distance learning, students continue learning at the comfort and safe environment of their homes.

Despite this set-up, DepEd continued the implementation of the School-based Feeding Program or SBFP, even introducing the new Milk Feeding Component. The SBFP aims to address hunger and encourage learners to enroll; contribute to the improvement of their nutritional status; provide nourishment for their growth and development and help boost their immune system, and enhance health and nutrition values and behavior.

The SBFP will cover targeted public kindergarten students as well as Grades 1 to 6 students who were deemed to be under "wasted" and "severely wasted" categories based on last year's health records. It shall provide beneficiaries with nutritious food products-through rationing-for at least 60 feeding days, and fresh or sterilized milk for 50 feeding days. The feeding program has been rolled out in implementing public elementary schools on the last week of November.

The nutritious food products being distributed to the learners are based on a localized one-month cycle menu and a regional food supply map developed by the Regional SBFP Focal Person to ensure that these are healthy and nutritious for the target beneficiaries. On the other hand, the 20 DepEd Schools Division Offices in the region have partnered with the Philippine Carabao Center and National Dairy Authority for the supply of fresh milk for the Milk Feeding Component.

Based on the SBFP implementing guidelines, schools shall strategize schemes to deliver the nutritious food products and milk packs to the beneficiaries in their homes. Parents may pick up the nutritious food products and milk packs on designated days and time or school personnel may opt to distribute them using school vehicles. School heads may also coordinate with partners such as barangay officials or non-government organizations (NGOs) to distribute the milk packs to the homes of the beneficiaries.

In a press release, DepEd said it is also looking into establishing partnerships with farmer-cooperatives and SMEs to supply nutritious food and fresh milk products to promote local agriculture.

The SBFP complies with the Republic Act No. 11037 otherwise known as the "Masustansyang Pagkain para sa Batang Pilipino Act," signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on June 18, 2020, and was later augmented in the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.


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