MANILA - The budget for free lunches in public schools may be increased next year.
The Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) admitted that current funding levels for feeding programs are not enough to reverse the ravages of malnutrition, a lawmaker said Saturday.
They have thus proposed to increase each meal allocation from P13 to P25, which will cost the government an additional P2.5 billion, "an amount that is small compared to the estimated P328 billion annual economic losses caused by childhood malnutrition," Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto said.
"If we are bothered by the small food budget given to convicts, then we should be outraged over the pitifully smaller allocation for meals of children in daycare centers and schools," Recto said, citing the P50 individual daily food budget of the country's 135,000 inmates.
Should the proposed adjustment in the 2017 budget be approved, P1 billion will be allocated to expand the DSWD's supplemental feeding program that serves meals to 1.74 million toddlers enrolled in daycare centers for 120 days.
The remaining P1.5 billion will be used to beef up DepEd's feeding program budget that caters to 1.9 million "severely wasted and underweight" children aged five to 11 years.