For this year’s celebration of the National Nutrition Month, DSWD Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said that addressing the immediate needs of children, including their nutritional needs will continue to be among the priorities of the department.
“The Department will do its part to provide support to poor families, and this includes providing mothers and children access to important health services. Part of the services we will continue to provide is the Supplementary Feeding Program (SFP). The program is also being put under review to determine whether it needs to be improved to make it more responsive to the needs of day care children,” she said.
SFP is the provision of food in addition to the regular meals to children enrolled in day care centers and supervised neighborhood play (SNP) for the period of 120 days. It makes use of indigenous food and/or locally-produced food equivalent to 1/3 of Recommended Energy and Nutrient Intake (RENI).
Children-beneficiaries will be weighed at the start of the feeding, three months thereafter, and after the completion of the 120 feeding day cycle to determine improvement and sustenance in their nutritional status. The feeding program is being managed by the parents based on a prepared meal cycle.
To date, out of 2, 053, 383 target beneficiaries of the SFP’s 5th cycle of implementation, 87.5% or 1,786,281 day care children and 9,418 SNP beneficiaries have already been served nationwide.
“Many Filipino children suffer from poor nutrition because of the poverty their families face. The sorry plight of thousands of children all over the country cannot be separated from the fact that their parents often do not have access to medical care and nutritious food in sufficient amounts because they cannot afford them. Even as we emphasize on the necessity to provide for the needs of children for healthy food, we also emphasize the need to help their parents find sustainable employment and means of livelihood so they themselves can provide for the nutritional and other needs of their children,” she said.
Support to Nutrition Month
Meanwhile, Sec. Taguiwalo expressed her full support for activities marking National Nutrition Month. The theme of celebrations is “First 1000 Days ni baby pahalagahan para sa malusog na kinabukasan”.
For the DSWD, ensuring that Filipino children get proper nutrition even after their 1, 000 days of life is vital for their proper growth and development.
The objective of the Department’s SFP is reflective of the theme of the celebration.
National Nutrition Month focuses on the significance of proper feeding practices during the first day of conception until the second birthday of infants.
Viewed as the vital stage for a person’s intellectual development and lifelong health, the first 1,000 days of a child is critical because it is during this period when growth faltering happens.
To prevent complications like stunted growth, underweight, wasting, and delayed development of children, government agencies such as the DSWD and the Department of Health highlight the importance of breastfeeding for the first six months and feeding appropriate complementary food after six months while breastfeeding. It is also important to ensure that children get adequate nutrition so their processes for brain development, body growth and immune system health remain on track.
Because of this, activities marking Nutrition Month also aim to promote a comprehensive package of nutrition and related interventions for the first 1,000 days of infants.