At a regular session held on 25 May 2023, the City Council of Manila passed on Third Reading a localized version of Republic Act 11037 (Masustansyang Pagkain para sa Batang Pilipino Act), aimed at addressing the problem of malnutrition among children.
The measure, to be known as Masustansyang Pagkain para sa Batang Maynila Ordinance, will establish the Manila City Local Feeding Program in daycare centers and public schools, providing at least one fortified meal daily, for 120 days or more each year, to undernourished kids.
The program will be funded in part by the City’s Special Education Fund, and implemented by the Manila Department of Social Welfare, in coordination with the City Health Department and national government agencies, particularly the Department of Education and Department of Social Welfare and Development.
“Giving good nutrition to a child early in life is essential to his or her future health”, explained 4th District Councilor Louisito “Doc Louie” Chua, principal author of the Ordinance. “Most children eat just to satisfy their hunger, without proper regard to their food’s nutritional value”, added Chua, who is a medical doctor by profession.
Many common diseases nowadays, like obesity, are linked to malnutrition. Children are at greater risk of malnutrition, as they have greater nutritional needs than adults.
The health measure received unanimous support from the Councilors present. Some even shared their fond memories of the feeding programs they benefited from as a child, as Vice Mayor John Marvin “Yul Servo” Nieto recalled being served with nutribun and milk in grade school.
The program is expected to eventually form part of Mayor Maria Sheilah “Honey” Lacuna-Pangan’s comprehensive campaign to provide aid to indigent constituents.