I will feature a very laudable program of the Department of Education named Food for School Program. It started last 2006. The program aims to mitigate hunger of poor families and improve school retention. In the first phase of the program, only grade one students from selected elementary schools in areas declared as vulnerable provinces were given one (1) kilo of Iron Fortified Rice every school day for SY 2006-2007 and Summer of SY 2006-2007. Per our interview of the teachers from selected elementary schools in Zamboanga del Norte, the program was a big help to the families of pupils because it improved the attendance of their children in school and gave them rice everyday.
In one elementary school in Zamboanga del Norte, the teachers served the same rice to us for lunch, paired with sardines for ulam. We not only inspected the rice but ate it as well. For others, they are bothered by the yellow specks in the rice, but it is these yellow specks which gives iron in the rice. It is an eye opening experience talking to the teachers and recipient families about the program.
For SY 2007-2008, the recipients were expanded to grade two to six students. But it is still limited to one family per kilo of rice. Meaning, even if you have two kids, one in grade 2 and the other in grade 5, only a kilo of rice will be given, usually to the older child.
I hope that such program will continue and it will not be open to abuse and corruption by the people in government.