500,000 Filipino families benefit from gov't free rice rations

November 16, 2009 10:20 am 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, Nov. 16 — Nearly half a million underprivileged Filipino families received rations of rice through a multi-million peso feeding program instituted by the Arroyo administration in the country’s daycare centers during the height of the global economic crisis last year.

According to National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) Secretary Domingo Panganiban, the government distributed a total of 32.6 million kilograms of rice, worth around P652 million based on the cost estimates of the National Food Authority (NFA), to the families of some 496,704 pre-school children in state-run daycare centers during the 2008 to first half 2009 school year as part of the Food for School Program (FSP) under the Accelerated Hunger Mitigation Program (AHMP).

"The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), led by Secretary Esperanza Cabral, distributed the rice through 13,764 daycare centers in 496 cities and municipalities nationwide," he said.

NAPC assistant secretary Dolores de Quiros Castillo, AHMP focal person, said the program was in step with the government’s aggressive implementation of the poverty alleviation and anti-hunger efforts in the pursuit of achieving the millennium development goals related to poverty reduction and education.

"All the municipalities and cities served under the DSWD’s 2008 to 2009 feeding program were located within Metro Manila and the 10 priority provinces which registered the highest levels of hunger in the Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES) as reported by the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) in 2003," said Panganiban.

The 10 provinces which registered the highest number of food poor families in 2003 are Zamboanga del Norte, Masbate, Maguindanao, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Mountain Province, Lanao del Norte, Camarines Norte, Sarangani, and Zamboanga Sibugay.

A recent study conducted by the NNC, meanwhile, found that 49 of the country’s 81 provinces are food insecure.

The NAPC chief said some 245,642 families in Luzon alone benefited from the AHMP priority program.

He said another 94,698 families in the Visayas also received rations of rice under the nationwide anti-hunger effort as did another 156,364 beneficiary families in some of the poorest provinces of Mindanao.

The National Nutrition Council (NNC), which oversees the AHMP, is now closely tracking the progress of the government’s continuing feeding programs as these are an important component of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s overall social reform agenda, he added. (PNA) LDV/LGI

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