Feature: DSWD highlights success of Supplementary Feeding Program; begins Program in ARMM

Almost two million children benefitted from its Supplementary Feeding Program (SFP) beginning July 2015 up to July 2016, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) announced.

The agency announced that for the 5th cycle (SY 2015-2016) implementation, which began in July 2015, the program has been able to cover 1,795,699 children enrolled in 56,325 Child Development Centers nationwide.

Of this figure, 13% or 229,157 children were underweight and severely underweight upon entry. After 120 feeding days, 76.36% or 174,989 of the children gained weight. This is still higher than 23.64% or 54,168 of the children who maintained their normal weight.

"We are proud of the achievements of the program; but we are well aware that the figures achieved are still insignificant when compared to the massive need of millions of impoverished families who need to have added means to provide sustenance to their children," said Sec. Judy M. Taguiwalo.

She said that beyond the Supplementary Feeding Program, complementary interventions at home must continue to enable children to meet basic food requirements.

The SFP aims to improve and sustain the nutritional status of the target children-beneficiaries and improve knowledge, attitude and practices of children, parents and caregivers through intensified nutrition and health education. It basically provides hot meals to children currently in LGU-run Child Development Centers (formerly known as day care centers) and Supervised Neighborhood Play for 120 days. SFP is implemented in partnership with LGUs.

"We recognize that malnutrition cannot be resolved without addressing the poverty experienced by their families as most parents earn less than what they direly need so they can provide for the basic needs of their families," Sec. Taguiwalo said.

DSWD's SFP is crucial especially for poor families as the formative years of a child (0-5 yrs) can determine the mortality of our children, and stunting and wasting of a child at this stage can cause impaired mental development.

In DSWD's 2017 proposed budget for SFP, there is a decrease of 19% due to the decrease of target beneficiaries. This is due to the Sixth Cycle Implementation starting this year, where 5-year-old children will be under the Department of Education. For 2017-2018 schoolyear, the DSWD will serve 2 to 4 year-old children in Supervised Neighborhood Play (SNP), 3 to 4-year-old children in the Child Development Centers (CDCs) and 5-year-old children not enrolled in Department of Education preschool but enrolled in CDCs. Previously, since 2011-2015, the DSWD SFP served 3 to 5 year-old children enrolled in CDC.

"Still, we want to expand the SFP to cover more children belonging to families who are not members of 4Ps but are requesting membership to the DSWD's SFP. We will use additional budget we can get for the SFP to strengthen the program and expand its scope and coverage," said Sec. Taguiwalo.

There are also 53,262 Child Development Workers or formerly known as Day Care Workers, and 9,418 Supervised Neighborhood Play Groups all over the country. As of now, Supplementary Feeding Programs are allotted P15 per child.

"While we look at poverty as a major stumbling block towards the attainment of a healthy child, the government needs to ensure its people that it will continue to provide adequate programs that can immediately address the nutritional and health needs of our children while working with everyone, especially on coordinating the efforts of the different government agencies in addressing the chronic poverty that has plagued the nation for decades. This is consistent with the thrust of Pres. Duterte", Sec. Taguiwalo said.

Feeding program in ARMM

In the meantime, the DSWD is also all set to implement comprehensive feeding program for kids in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The department has taken its cue from Pres. Duterte who ordered the same. The DSWD and the LGUs of ARMM are now meeting on a regular basis to firm up the details of the program. Sec. Taguiwalo said that the food insecurity that has plagued the communities of Mindanao due to decades-long armed conflict, including rido, has caused malnutrition among children.

Based on the result of the 8th National Nutrition Survey (NNS) conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) in 2013, ARMM had the highest prevalence of under height children among 0-5 years old and 10-19 years old than the national average.

Moreover, 44.5 percent of households in ARMM are severely food insecure, meaning most of the households eat few meals a day, go to sleep hungry or even go an entire day without eating.

Sec. Taguiwalo explained, "the Feeding Program serves as the Department's contribution to the thrust of President Rody Duterte to provide programs and services to the development of the needy areas in Mindanao. Our primary concern right now is to provide food for the hungry and malnourished children."

The program will be implemented in partnership with the local government units (LGUs), wherein the children will be provided with hot meals for 120 days with P15 fund allocation per meal.

In addition, the Department will also provide other bio-psychosocial support services to the parents as part of the comprehensive intervention to the family and ensure sustained development after the provision of meals. These services include the conduct of parent effectiveness sessions (PES), empowerment and reaffirmation of paternal abilities training (ERPAT) and backyard gardening for livelihood opportunities.

"This program will also employ the convergence strategy between and among the national government agencies (NGAs) which have their own programs to contribute to the cause of the President for a genuine compassion and efficient delivery of services to the needy public," said Sec. Taguiwalo.

Source: Philippine Information Agency