February 20, 2021 — In pursuit of providing assistance to students amidst the pandemic, the Department of Education (DepEd) served approximately 3.5 million learner-beneficiaries for its School-Based Feeding Program (SBFP) for School Year 2020-2021.

According to a report from the Department’s Bureau of Learner Support Services (BLSS), the SBFP provided Nutritious Food Products (NFP) and fresh milk to 3,517,807 and 3,136,951 learners, respectively, in more than 33,000 public schools nationwide.

The SBFP surpassed its benchmark target of 1.7 million beneficiaries, posting a 205.9% achievement rate for NFP and 176.69% for milk components despite the implementation of distance learning.

“With the help of our partners, we have been continuing our school-based feeding program despite school closures due to the pandemic. The food and milk packs have been distributed directly into the homes of the learners while in some areas, parents or guardians of the learners have been allowed to claim the weekly food pack rations along with the learning modules,” Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones said.

“Nurturing healthy learners has been one of our priorities in the Department ever since. With the current health situation, we will continue to collaborate with the local government units in the distribution of nutritious food and milk packs directly to the homes of the learners,” she added.

DepEd was in partnership with the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC), the National Dairy Authority (NDA), and other various farmer cooperatives and small and medium enterprises engaged in the dairy business for the milk component. Meanwhile, the Department tapped cooperatives and SME producers accredited by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) for the NFP component.

Next school year, DepEd is also eyeing to partner with more farmer-cooperatives and SMEs to supply nutritious food and fresh milk products to promote local agriculture.

The SBFP complies with the Republic Act No. 11037 otherwise known as the “Masustansyang Pagkain para sa Batang Pilipino Act”, signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on June 18, 2020, and was later augmented in the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

The SBFP aims to (1) address hunger and encourage learners to enroll; (2) contribute to the improvement of their nutritional status; (3) provide nourishment for their growth and development and help boost their immune system, and (4) enhance health and nutrition values and behaviour.