Senator Grace Poe-Llamanzares is renewing her call for a free lunch program for public elementary and high school students all over the country.
“Ang pangarap ko talaga ay ang maging libre sa lahat ng antas, sa grade school at high school, ang pananghalian,” (It has always been my dream to make lunch free at all levels in elementary and high school) said Llamanzares, addressing around 1,400 students, teachers and parents at Paso de Blas Elementary School (PDBES) in Valenzuela City, where she celebrated her 45th birthday on Tuesday.
The senator who topped the national elections last May filed on July Senate Bill 73, a bill which seeks to address hunger and malnutrition among children and youth by establishing a free nutri-meals program that would be called Sustansiya sa Batang Pilipino Program.
The bill states that the program would prioritize public schools in areas where severe malnutrition has been reported, areas with armed conflict, and highly-congested areas.
“Our children and our children’s children must be spared from the bondage of poverty so that they can have true opportunity in the future,” the bill says.
Llamanzares expressed her worry about the possibility of the Priority Development Assistant Fund being abolished and impeding the implementation, but she is confident that the private sector would provide support.
Valenzuela City’s own feeding program, which is now on its second year, feeds around 18,000 day care children, students in kinder and in grade 1 through grade 6.
The program is implemented in partnership with the Ateneo Center for Educational Development.
City Mayor REX Gatchalian said he is happy that Llamanzares’ nutrition program is aligned with that of the city government and is hoping for the passage of Llamanzares’ bill.
Maritess Laplana, mother of a grade 2 student and a grade 4 student at PDBES, said the city’s feeding program said the feeding program has proven beneficial not only to students but to their parents as well.
“Hindi na ako mag-aalala kung ano ang ipapabaon ko sa mga anak ko,” (I don’t worry about which food to send my children to school with) Laplana said. “Masustansya pa ang pinapakain sa kanila (The meals served them are nutritious, too).