“There is a direct proportion between nutrition and performance of the children. We need to invest in our children,” Grace Poe said as she promises to prioritize child nutrition through feeding programs.
Presidential bet Grace Poe says the government should focus on child nutrition as she pushes for a more extensive implementation of feeding programs.
“We allot money for so many different projects. We need to spend more on the nutrition of our children,” Poe said in the vernacular during a recent press conference in Baguio City.
“Nakabatay talaga sa talino at galing ng ating populasyon ang [magiging] kahihinatnan ng ating bansa. Kung mahina ang ating mga kabataan hindi sila matututo…(The fate of our country depends on the intellect and ability of the population. If our children are weak and go to school hungry, they will not learn),” Poe also said, adding that healthy children will become smarter adults who will be more able in their jobs.
Poe cited a school in Iloilo that offers free meals to its students, who have, in turn, gotten higher test scores. Class attendance, too, increased to almost 100%. Similarly, students in a school in Tondo that provides free lunch, have higher marks compared to students in the wealthier cities of Makati and Taguig.
Poe also discussed Valenzuela’s successful feeding program, which benefitted some 7,000 children. With a budget of less than Php 40 per child, students were fed simple but nutritious meals, such as malunggay meatballs, and itlog lugaw with malunggay, to name a few.
Such programs, Poe said, should be replicated throughout the country.
The Senator authored the Sustansya Para sa Batang Pilipino Bill, a bill that aims to provide free lunches to public school children nationwide to address malnutrition among school-age children.
Poe, however, said that only about two million students benefitted from the Php 3.2 billion feeding program last year, adding that she hopes to extend the service to all public school students.
“…we cannot give up because it is a huge undertaking. This is something that we really need to push for and to ensure [that] it will not be a source of corruption. Hindi naman pwedeng source of corruption therefore wag na natin gawin yon. Gawin natin lahat para hindi pwedeng mangurakot dito (We can’t just give up because it could be a source of corruption. Let’s do everything we can to ensure that it won’t be a source of corruption),” she also said.
Find out what the First 1,000 Days bill is and how it will benefit newborns and their mothers, on the next page.