According to the 7th National Nutrition Survey, 2008 conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), malnutrition proved to be prevalent. The result revealed that under and over nutrition still continue among Filipino children and significantly increased compared to the last survey. Though malnutrition among children is a problem that needs to be addressed by the government, children aged 2-5 who are at risk of malnutrition should also be given equal consideration to prevent them from becoming malnourished.

One of the thrusts of President Benigno C. Aquino’s Administration is to strengthen and maximize Public-Private Partnerships along implementation of various programs and projects. As an initial response, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) implemented the Supplementary Feeding Program (SFP) in partnership with the Local Government Units (LGUs) and non-government organizations, as part of the Department’s contribution to the Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) program of the government.  The program is continuously being implemented to help achieve the Millennium Development Goal 1 which is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.

The Supplementary Feeding Program (SFP) of the government implemented by DSWD is the provision of food in addition to the regular meals. The food supplementation will be in the form of hot meals to be served during snack or meal time to children five (5) days a week for 120 days.  The feeding program will be managed by parents based on a prepared meal cycle using available indigenous food supplies. Children beneficiaries will be weighed at the start of the feeding and three months thereafter. This is to determine the improvement and sustenance in their nutrition status.

SFP aims to provide augmentation support for feeding programs for children in LGU-managed Day Care Centers (DCCs) or Supervised Neighborhood Play (SNP) areas and communities using indigenous foods and/or locally produced foods equivalent to 1/3 of Recommended Energy and Nutrient Intake (RENI). It also aspired to improve the knowledge, attitude and practices of children, parents and caregivers through intensified nutrition and health education. Further, it intends to improve and sustain the nutritional status of the target children beneficiaries.

The municipality of Santiago located in the Province of Agusan del Norte is one of the municipalities of which has successfully implemented SFP.

Santiago Mayor Zenaida Lim narrated and shared how they were able to successfully implement SFP in their area. “I am very supportive in this program, because I believe that the children are our future. And nutrition plays a vital role to these next generations. We have to prepare them physically and mentally. If these children lack nutrition they will also be affected mentally,” Mayor Lim said.

But just like any other program, there were also challenges that were met along the way, “As I vividly recall the first implementation of SFP was in 2011. I would say that it was a partial failure of the first implementation of the program, maybe because of the missed application of policies in the procurement,” mayor Lim said who was the Vice mayor then. “I saw the failure, and I took the challenge, I considered failure as our way to success. Because without the errors we won’t be able to see and identify the problem,” Mayor Lim added.

As shared by mayor Lim the first step she did was that she gathered all the daycare workers and the parents of the daycare children and asked them for feedbacks on the implementation of SFP. She also had the SFP implementation investigated by the committee of local good governance.

“With the results of the investigation, I ordered a memorandum that my office will be the one to handle the implementation of the program,” she said. The memorandum was also supported by the barangay captains, daycare workers and parents.

Ms. Lea Varon, DSWD Field Office Caraga Regional Nutritionist also added that Mayor Zenaida Lim likewise asked approval from DSWD Caraga for the transfer of handling the feeding program to her office which was granted by the Department. She also said that the nutritionist and the day care workers used the Food Allocation Matrix to make sure that each child gets its right quantity and quality of food.

The Food Allocation Matrix was introduced to LGUs last October 2012. Local SFP Focal Persons and day care worker officers were trained and capacitated on how to use the matrix.

Mayor Lim called for a meeting and discussed the best actions and plans to successfully implement the program. It was attended by the local finance committee, municipal treasurer, planning development officer, daycare workers, parents, barangay captains, municipal nutritionist, and some head of offices.

She also asked the municipal nutrition office to prepare different menus that is good for one week. “Based on our experience as children, we don’t want to eat foods already served the previous meals. So I thought that if we constantly served them with congee or lugaw the children will no longer want to,” expressed Mayor Lim.

Mayor Lim was literally hands on in the implementation of SFP. “I always see to it that I am always present in the distribution of ingredients and materials, because I want to make sure that everything is provided.”

The Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) and Accounting heads make sure that the process of procurement will not be delayed so as not to hinder the implementation of the program. An honorarium was also given to Nutrition Barangay Scholars who were the one assigned to pack the goods that will be distributed to Day care centers.

The LGU also provided refrigerators to some Day Care Centers in order not to spoil the ingredients needed for the feeding.

The municipality of Santiago has 740 daycare children with 708 normal nutritional statuses, of which 31 from among are identified as underweight while 1 child is overweight, prior SFP. After 120 days of implementing SFP in the area, there were no longer underweight children thus, having a total of 738 day care children with normal nutritional statuses and 2 children recorded as overweight.

Of the 738 children with normal nutritional statuses 376 are Pantawid Pamilya children.

“One of the reasons why we no longer have underweight child among daycare children because we also included weekends for the feeding,” shared mayor Lim.

Mayor Zenaida Lim gave a directive to the Local SFP Focal Person that there should be no stopping of the 120 days implementation. Hence the feeding activity was conducted Monday to Sunday to ensure that the improvement of the nutritional status of children will be attained.

During weekends the parents and the barangay chairman went to the daycare centers to prepare the meals and will bring it home to their children. ###

The implementation of SFP in Caraga region has been successful. And success would not be possible if there were no challenges, but these challenges did not hinder the aim of the program in accelerating the delivery of assistance to the children who are affected and vulnerable to malnutrition.

One of the factors that strongly contribute to the success of the implementation lies on how the implementers especially the LGU supports and executes the program.

“The implementation of SFP was not easy because we have to increase the nutritional status of our children, but nevertheless we always implement it by heart because we care for our children. What will happen to our future if our children today lack nutrition. I together with my colleagues here in the LGU of Santiago are and will always be passionate in increasing the nutritional statuses of our children,” expressed Mayor Lim.

Mayor Zenaida Lim together with the barangay captains and other head of offices of the Municipality of Santiago plan to replicate and continue the implementation of Supplementary Feeding program in their municipality.

Supplementary Feeding Program (SFP) has been implemented in Caraga region since 2011 in 67 municipalities and 6 cities. Last year, the region aims to serve 67,990 day care children and by the end of 2013 SFP Caraga was able to serve 68,452 day care children and was commended for implementing SFP to all targeted 73 LGUs for the 3rd cycle. ###

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