Soon, public school students will be given free lunches in school if a bill filed by Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo is approved in Congress.
House Bill 6097 mandates the free provision of lunch to students in the official start of classes until the end of the school year.
“No child can learn on an empty stomach. Yet, many of our children go to public schools every day without a decent meal,” Romulo was quoted by GMA News.
The free lunch program is estimated to cost the government at least P80 billion and is seen to benefit almost 600,000 children in public kindergarten and elementary schools.
Romulo, chair of the House committee on higher and technical education, said the measure aims “to boost the attendance, nutrition, health and academic performance of children in the public schools.”
Citing a recent study, Romulo revealed that 32 out of every 100 public school children aged five to 10 years old are underweight, while 34 out of every 100 are abnormally short for their age.
“The problem is self-evident. Many of our public school children appear emaciated and stunted,” Romulo said.
Under HB 6097, the free lunch program shall be run by a Child Nutrition Network composed of the Department of Education, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Health, Department of Agriculture, National Nutrition Council, and Food and Nutrition Research Institute.
Private corporations and individuals may also contribute to the free lunch under the Adopt-a-School Program, where they can deduct from their gross taxable income up to 150 percent of their donation.