Food aid program encourages poor kids to go to school in Region 12

Bai Zorahayda Taha, director of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in Region 12, said the implementation of the Food for School Program or FSP since May has been helping poor pre-school and Grade 1 school children to remain in schools.

FSP primarily aims to mitigate hunger of poor families and improve the attendance rate of poor children in schools.

The implementation of the program is pursuant to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s instructions to various government agencies to intensify their efforts in addressing hunger among poor schoolchildren and their families, especially those in the remote areas.

Taha said the DSWD, which handles the program’s implementation for children in day care centers, already covered at least 333 day care centers in the region’s four provinces and five cities.

Region 12 covers the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Kidapawan, Cotabato and Tacurong.

Taha said Sarangani ranked first in having the most number of beneficiaries with 4,138, followed by Cotabato province with 2,983, Sultan Kudarat with 2,686 and South Cotabato with 1,960.

In terms of rice distribution, she said they were able to give out 1,856 sacks of rice or equivalent to 92,797 kilograms.

Taha said the total cost of the rice allocation reached P1.86 million.

Under the program, the distribution period covers at least 120 days for each beneficiary. A kilo of NFA’s iron-fortified rice is allotted for every beneficiary per day.

FSP is defined as an immediate intervention to address hunger among families through their children in Grade 1, pre-school and day care levels.

“It is a form of food subsidy for young learners who belong to poor families,” a program briefer cited.

Under the program, the beneficiaries would be provided with daily rations of a kilo of rice for a limited period of time.

“As long as the child goes to school or day care center, the family is assured of rice on its table every day, which will eventually contribute to the improvement of their nutritional status,” it said.

The program covers pre-school and Grade 1 pupils in the National Capital Region (NCR), divisions of Sulu and Tawi- Tawi in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and selected public elementary schools in 49 provinces in the country.