MANILA – The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) is showing how schools in the country can continue to provide meals to children despite schools staying closed for in-person classes.
At a high-level discussion organized by the United Nations (UN) Philippines today, Deputy Minister Haron Meling of Basic, Higher, Technical Education in the BARMM reported that, “in the current school year the BARMM is targeting to feed 160,000 learners in the Bangsamoro and in 63 barangays in North Cotabato which recently joined BARMM.”
In 2020, BARMM spent Php336 million, or Php17 per child per day, on meals consisting of iron fortified rice, fruits and vegetables with green mongo, anchovies, and dried fish.
Director Lope Santos of the Department of Education (DepEd) Bureau of Learner Support Services said that amid the pandemic, the DepEd school-based feeding program has fed 3.5 million learners from more than 34,000 schools during school year SY 2020-2021.
Meling said that UN agencies have been supporting BARMM’s school feeding programme.
The World Food Programme (WFP) has helped to develop the rules and regulations of the national school feeding law and has carried out assessments of the program to determine gaps in implementation. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) supports the procurement of locally produced food and the implementation of community-based feeding interventions.
More recently, the UN has expressed its support to the Philippines, in particular the DepEd, to join the global School Meals Coalition which aims to ensure that every child has the opportunity to receive a healthy, nutritious meal by 2030.
The School Meals Coalition emerged from the Food Systems Summit (FSS) process led by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. Governments have joined forces with development agencies, donors, academia, the private sector, UN agencies and civil society organizations to build the School Meals Coalition.
This coalition will help to address the COVID-19 pandemic by bringing together governments, United Nations agencies, intergovernmental organizations, civil society, the private sector and academia to drive actions that can urgently re-establish, improve and scale-up school meals programmes in low, lower middle, upper middle and high income countries around the world.
France is also supporting the DepEd’s commitment to the School Meals Coalition.
The High-Level Discussion called Beyond the Plate: Reinventing Food Systems is a three-day series of discussions being convened by the UN Philippines within the framework of the Global Food Systems Summit (FSS) taking place in New York on 23 September.