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Legarda Pushes for Child Nutrition Program in all Public Schools

June 22, 2011

SENATOR LOREN LEGARDA HAS CALLED FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A CHILD NUTRITION PROGRAM IN ALL PUBLIC SCHOOLS NATIONWIDE TO ADDRESS BOTH FOOD INSECURITY AND MALNUTRITION AMONG SCHOOLCHILDREN.
Legarda made the call following the Department of Health’s appeal to schoolchildren to avoid junk food and other food items that contain ingredients such as Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), which may be dangerous to health.
The Senator explained that aside from urging parents to have their children bring nutritious snacks to school, the government should also establish a complementary feeding program that would ensure access to food supplements which will improve nutritional status of schoolchildren. This is what Legarda proposes under Senate Bill 2561.
“In addressing food insecurity, we must prioritize the needs of children who are most affected because they are the most vulnerable components of society. In fact, statistics from the DOH show that an estimated 50% of pupils are anemic, two out of ten children are iodine-deficient, and about 44.9% of schoolchildren suffer from malnutrition,” Legarda said.
She added that the same report also revealed that four out of 100 pre-schoolers have night blindness, 84.3% of schoolchildren suffer from dental caries, and 75% from intestinal parasitism.
“In order to improve the health status of schoolchildren, we must have a system-wide plan to implement a nutrition and health program in schools and barangay day care centers, consisting of a complementary feeding program and may also include other nutrition-related activities such as micronutrient supplementation, weighing and growth monitoring, deworming of children, and promotion of improved hygiene practices,” she stressed.
“This intervention is urgent, as undernourishment is largely preventable and the World Bank has reported of exceptionally high development returns to a number of direct nutrition interventions. Also, our success in addressing malnutrition is essential in meeting the Millennium Development Goals, which we aim to achieve by 2015,” Legarda concluded.