Press Release
January 23, 2019


"Intensifying the school feeding program is one way of cutting school drop out rates that lead to juvenile delinquency," Sen. Grace Poe said as she welcomed debates on the age of criminal liability as an opportunity for society to comprehensively address the rise in the number of youth offenders.

Poe said "what experts have been saying is that keeping kids in school and away from the streets, keeps them out of trouble with the law."

"The challenge now is how to retain vulnerable children in school. One way is to incentivize class attendance by offering them free meals. 'Pag pumasok ka, may pagkain. We do not only feed your mind but your body as well. Education is the best antidote to crime," she said.

But school feeding, she said, is not just a matter of luring high-risk children to school.

"It is more than that. Hindi lang ito calories for class attendance deal. It is the state exercising its responsibility to provide care and comfort to children. And that includes nutrition, because to eat is a basic children's right," Poe said.

Poe said the "Masustansyang Pagkain Para sa Batang Pilipino Act," which she co-authored and co-sponsored, has been enacted into law.

The Senate has also increased the budget of the Department of Education for school feeding, to P7.58 billion, from the P3.97 billion as originally proposed by Malacañang in their 2019 national budget bill.

This increase means an additional 1.67 million students will be served hot, daily meals in public schools.

Poe said the total budget for free children's feeding this year, P11.07 billion, of which P7.58 billion is lodged with DepEd, and P3.49 billion for DSWD, "is far from the ideal amount, but is a good start."

"Habang lumalaki ang capacity ng ating schools, local governments, parent's associations and civil groups to run school and community kitchens, dagdagan natin ng pondo commensurately. Hindi puwedeng malaki kaagad, otherwise it will lead to fund spoilage," Poe said.

Poe said "there is no magic bullet to end child criminality. It is always a combination of measure, the preventive ones being the most effective. It takes a village to teach, feed and prevent a child from going to prison."

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