An act instituting a free nutri-meals program to children enrolled in all elementary schools including kindergarten and high schools in the K-12 public education sector.
A study conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute shows malnutrition is prevalent in Filipino children 1 . Results showed that 15.9% or two out of ten children from 0 to 47 months old were born with low birth weight or were less than 5.5 lbs. 2
The results also showed that 20.2% of children in this category were underweight, while 33.6% were stunted or had lower heights for their age. 7.3% of the children suffered from acute malnutrition. 3
In the five to ten years old category, results were much higher. 32% of children in this category were underweight while 33.6% had low heights for their age. The percentage of children suffering acute malnutrition was 8.5%. 4 Without a doubt, proper nutrition is necessary to have a fulfilling and healthy life.
High malnutrition levels lead to development issues and an increase in poverty in regions like the Philippines. 5
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, due to the lack of nourishing food sources and nutrition education, hunger and malnutrition are still dominant in the Philippines. In fact, these problems have been linked with high rates of poverty and an ever growing population.
Though the national government has exerted effort to reduce hunger and
malnutrition, still four in ten households in the Philippines are unable to provide their
children nutritionally adequate meals according to the FNRI. 6
Fighting malnutrition in the Philippines is a difficult task, but it should not be
considered unimportant. The betterment of the Philippines’ future relies on its
children; children who need proper nutrition to grow into healthy adults. Government
funding and continued education are key to fighting malnutrition in the Philippines.
This bill seeks to halt the vicious cycle of hunger and poverty in the Philippines.
The bill has the following salient points:
1. It institutionalizes the “Libreng Pananghalian sa Pampublikong Paaralan”
Program and for its feasible implementation. Initially, school children in the
elementary levels including kindergarten in public schools shall be given free
nutritious meals. Following the K-12 Policy, it shall cover pupils in the Kindergarten
and Grades I-VI. On its third year of implementation, the Program shall cover all
levels of public elementary schools including kindergarten and Junior High School
Level of the K-12 Policy. On its fifth year of implementation, the Program shall cover
both elementary and high school levels in the K -12 public education sector.
2. As the legislation recognizes administrative and resources limitations, public
schools in areas where severe malnutrition are reported, armed conflict and highly
congested shall be prioritized.
3. Private sector support is encouraged in this Act. It can be through their
respective Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities or through simple
donations to public schools.
4. A unified body composed of relevant government agencies is created. The
reason is to have an integrated approach to oversee the meaningful implementation
of the Program.
5. Pursuant to the Philippine Agenda 21, the only rational way of planning the country's
national progress is through sustainable development: meeting the needs of citizens
of today without limiting the options of future generations to fulfill their needs. Hence,
the immediate approval of this bill is earnestly sought.
LUIS RAYMUND F. VILLAFUERTE, JR.