In the Philippines, school feeding programs make a difference by:
- incentivizing students and parents to enroll and stay enrolled in school
- improving students’ nutrition status
- improving students’ ability to learn
- increasing students’ confidence
Check out some of Adhika’s feeding programs in action, and read on below to learn more about how our programs are making a difference in the Philippines.
Making an Impact Through School Feeding Programs in the Philippines
Chrisanto Guzman is a 10-year-old fifth grader at Bugatay Elementary School, situated in Penablanca, Cagayan, Philippines. Chris belongs to indigenous peoples agtas (aetas), one of the few hunting and nomadic tribes found in the Sierra Madre Ranges. Like many indigenous families in the Philippines, Chris’ family relies primarily on farming, fishing and hunting, and do not have a sustainable source of monetary income.
Chrisanto and two of his classmates.
Not having a baon, or allowance to purchase food, is one of the main reasons children drop out of school in the Philippines. School Feeding programs are therefore integral in reducing some of the financial burdens families face, and help to keep children enrolled in school.
Since 2007, Adhika has supported school feeding programs for children in the Philippines. Chris is one of the 24 aeta pupils who participate in Adhika’s feeding program at his school. When the program began three years ago, only four students were enrolled. The head teacher explains that parents now feel encouraged to send their children to school because of the feeding program.
Since the program began, teachers have observed an obvious improvement in students’ performance in their school work, increased confidence, and an improved overall sense of well-being throughout the school, especially when the students are lining up for their food.
Chris aspires to be a policeman one day. The little push that the feeding program provides, and the incentive to remain in school, helps to ensure that he continues to work towards his ambition, wishes and desires.
Improving Nutrition Status of Children in the Philippines
In the Philippines, the magnitude of children under five with stunted growth is high, and so the need for such programs is great. A World Health Organization (WHO) study that examined child malnutrition (1988-2013), found that about 6-8% of children under 5 in the Philippines were wasted*, and about 2% were severely wasted. About 1/3 of children under 5 in the Philippines have stunted growth, and 1/5 are underweight. When children under 5 are experiencing malnutrition, they are likely to carry this over to early childhood, which has repercussions on learning achievements in school. School feeding programs, when attended consistently, have proven to improve the nutritional status of children and therefore their learning outcomes.
In the case of Adhika, our pilot project at Cabbo Elementary School has demonstrated the potential for feeding programs to minimize malnutrition. Where we began with over 90 malnourished children five years ago, the nutritional status of these children have improved greatly. We continue the program at Cabbo as each year we have new enrollees in the lower grades who are malnourished or undernourished.
*wasting (moderate and severe) is defined as below minus two standard deviations from median weight for height of reference population (UNICEF)