Nine-year-old Juliana Cassandra Encomio, a grade 3 pupil of Anuling Elementary School in Mendez, Cavite is one of more than 10,000 public school students nationwide who benefited from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) Feeding Program for School Year 2013-2014.
Juliana moved to Cavite with her family November last year after Super Typhoon Yolanda devastated their home in Tacloban City. Their family took refuge in the home of Juliana’s paternal uncle in Cavite to start anew and rebuild their lives there.
Being in a new environment helps Juliana forget the tragedy. She savors joining the daily feeding sessions of Pagcor in their school. “First time ko lang po nasali sa isang feeding program. Sa dati naming school, ang binibigay lang po sa amin ay vitamin supplements [It’s my first time to join a feeding program. In my former school, they only give us vitamin supplements],” she added.
Her mother Lanie is grateful to Pagcor for sponsoring the feeding program. She is at least spared from having to prepare Juliana’s lunch every day. Besides this, Lanie also noticed that her daughter now socializes with other children.
For school year 2013-2014, Pagcor conducted its feeding program in 173 public elementary schools nationwide. Included in the project were students who were initially assessed to be “severely wasted” by nutritionists and health workers of the public schools prior to the start of the program’s implementation. These children are underweight for their age.
According to Priscilla Lo-Allan who is the over-all coordinator of the Pagcor Feeding Program, the student-beneficiaries gained as much as four to six pounds at the end of the program.
Allan attributes the significant weight increase of the children to the nutritious and complete meals served to them every day. “Apart from gaining weight, absenteeism among the beneficiaries was also lessened.
Their teachers told us that these children became more attentive, more energetic and participative in class,” she said.
Allan added that the beneficiaries also learned about proper grooming and eating habits. “The teachers who facilitate the feeding sessions teach them to pray before meals, to wash their hands, and to sit and eat properly. They learned good values and we can see they are now more cheerful,” she noted.
Pagcor’s Feeding Program is the state-owned gaming firm’s way to help provide the nutritional needs of underweight children enrolled in community-based day care centers and public elementary schools in cities hosting Casino Filipino branches. The agency serves nutritious meals to the beneficiaries every day until they attain their ideal weight and improve their health.