Feeding project to fight hunger needed­ — Risa

Senator Risa Hontiveros on Wednesday urged the Inter-Agency Task Force on Zero Hunger to accelerate the implementation of the national feeding programs to mitigate the effects of a hunger crisis in nutrition, saying these programs had already secured appropriations for 2021.

She  specifically mentioned the urgent and efficient execution of supplementary and school-based feeding programs under Republic Act 11037 or the ‘Masustansyang Pagkain para sa Batang Pilipino Act, which, according to her, had an allocated budget of more than P3.8B in 2021.

“We already have existing policies addressing the nutrition situation of the country and the budget to be able to do so,” said Hontivrros.

“What we need is a sense of urgency and to ensure that these programs are implemented efficiently.”

Last year, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the agency in-charge of the government’s supplemental feeding program, was short of around 700,000 children of their 1.88M target beneficiaries.

During budget deliberations, Hontivrros said they were able to boost the budget to help DSWD cover at least 25 percent of its shortage translating to an additional 185,000 children who can be accommodated in the program.

The senator also underscored the need for the Task Force to scale up its efforts to ensure that pregnant women and their babies would not suffer from hunger.

According to Hontiveros, adequate funding support  for pregnant women and newborn babies in the first 1,000 days is mandated under RA 11148 or the Kalusugan at Nutrisyon ng Mag-Nanay Act, a law which she sponsored and co-authored.

“We must protect our women and children at all cost because this also means securing our future.” she said.

Hontiveros said the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a threat not only to the health and livelihood of Filipinos, but also to food security and nutrition.

She added that the failure to take urgent action could result in a massive ‘food emergency’ that is even ‘deadlier than the coronavirus’.

“Even before the virus hit, involuntary hunger and malnutrition were already on the rise. According to the national Social Weather Stations Survey, there are around 4 million families who experienced involuntary hunger in the last quarter of 2020. This is twice as many compared to 2019.”

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