The House Education panel has approved a measure that seeks to provide poor schoolchildren free nutritious lunch.
House Bill 3276 or the National School Lunch Act of the Philippines (NSLAP), authored by Deputy Minority Leader Harry Roque of Kabayan party-list, seeks to provide qualified students in public and private schools one free lunch on every school day where students are required to attend activities.
“This is important because there are 12.2 million Filipino children who are malnourished, and half of them are extremely malnourished. Yet, we have P1 trillion unspent budget. We have to spend that to feed these children,” Roque said in an interview.
“Even if school were free, the associated cost of attending school and the foregone opportunities to work, still leave one out of six children out of school. This bill seeks to reduce these problems by reducing the burden on impoverished families of sending their children to school, while maximizing the ability of all students to learn,” he added.
Those who will be deemed eligible for the free lunch are students who live with a family whose income in the place of domicile falls below the poverty line; students who are members of households receiving assistance under the Department of Social Welfare and Development and orphans.
“This bill envisions to serve as a social protection mechanism for the underprivileged school children who, by reason of social and economic conditions in their family, are deprived of and unable to receive the proper and nutritious food elements much required of their stage in life for their optimum mental, physical and intellectual growth and development,” Roque said.