PCC, DepEd team up for nationwide school-based milk feeding program

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buffalo carabao farmer

A NATIONWIDE school-based milk feeding program is set to be implemented in accordance to the law that institutionalized a national feeding program for undernourished children in public schools, the Philippine Carabao Center (PCC) said.

The PCC said that it has forged a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Department of Education (DepEd) in implementing the national milk feeding program in accordance with the objectives of Republic Act No. 11037 or the “Masustansyang Pagkain para sa Batang Pilipino Act.”

Under the agreement, the PCC tapped its assisted dairy-farmer cooperatives to serve as the milk suppliers, while the DepEd has allocated a budget of P7.09 million for the purchase of carabao milk that will be used in the feeding program.

PCC Senior Science Research Specialist Ma. Theresa R. Sawit said the total volume of milk that was committed from the cooperatives can benefit around 390,000 children nationwide.

“Under the program, all undernourished Kindergarten to Grade 6 pupils, who are also school-based feeding program beneficiaries for hot meals, will receive 200 ml toned carabao’s milk daily for at least 20 feeding days,” Ms. Sawit said.

For its part, DepEd, through its Bureau of Learner Support Services – School Health Division, will lead the implementation of the milk feeding program.

Several school division offices have already signed operating MOAs to launch the program such as Puerto Princesa City, General Trias City, Legazpi City, Antipolo City, Oriental Mindoro, Cavite, Quezon Province, Laguna Province, Batangas Province, and Nueva Ecija.

“This program is not only beneficial to undernourished children but also to dairy value chain players as it has created a higher demand for locally produced milk, thus, providing them sustainable livelihood and boosting the local dairy industry,” PCC Executive Director Arnel N. Del Barrio said.

Due to the health protocols implemented in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, PCC said each municipality will have designated drop-off points for the delivery, inspection, and acceptance of milk products.

After the successful delivery, the DepEd will conduct house to house distribution of carabao’s milk to the beneficiaries.

PCC said the milk feeding program is expected to start this month, in time for the proposed opening of classes, after being delayed from its supposed start in March due to the pandemic.

In June 2018, President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11037 that aims to address the problem of undernutrition among Filipino children via a national feeding program, with the milk feeding program as one of its components. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave