Provincial Government of Tarlac champions Busog, Lusog, Talino School Feeding Program
“Child malnutrition is a stark reality in the Philippines. Many children in the country—most notably those in the countryside and urban poor areas—still do not have enough food to eat,” Sen. Grace Poe said during the 8th Busog, Lusog, Talino (BLT) Annual Opening Event in Cojuangco Elementary School in Paniqui, Tarlac. Now on its 8th year of program implementation nationwide, the BLT School Feeding Program continues with its mission to produce healthier and brighter schoolchildren.
The BLT School Feeding Program is an initiative of Jollibee Group Foundation (JGF) with partnering institutions that addresses hunger among Kinder and Grades 1 to 6 pupils to help them stay in school and learn better. BLT provides daily lunch to undernourished public school pupils for 120 days during the school year (August-February). For school year 2014-2015, the BLT School Feeding Program will cover more than 1,200 schools nationwide, which will benefit over 45,000 selected elementary pupils from Kinder to Grade 6. Since 2007, over 150,000 pupils have benefited from the program.
First BLT in the Provincial Government level
Aside from celebrating its 8th Annual Opening last July 22, 2014, BLT once again set another milestone since this is the first time an entire Provincial Government committed to support the program. The Provincial Government of Tarlac (PGT) under the leadership of Governor Victor Yap, entered a partnership with JGF to implement BLT in 20 public elementary schools in the municipalities of Bamban, Camiling, Capas, Paniqui, Pura, Sta. Ignacia, and Tarlac City among other cities and municipalities all over the country.
The opening event was graced by officials from the Provincial Government of Tarlac, including Governor Victor Yap and Vice Governor Enrique Cojuangco, officials from the Department of Education (DepEd) including Office of Partnerships and External Linkages Undersecretary Mario Deriquito, Regional Director of DepEd Central Luzon Dr. Isabelita Borres, and JGF officials led by its President Grace Tan Caktiong and Vice President Belen Rillo.
Tarlac province has 3,789 undernourished schoolchildren and an overall 16% rate of malnutrition. The numbers might be small compared to other provinces but as for Governor Yap, he deems it important to involve different sectors – school administrators, government leaders, private sector, and other civic groups to work together towards fighting malnutrition. He believes the BLT School Feeding Program will effectively address this.
Public-Private Partnership in School Feeding
As an effort to build and strengthen partnerships with local government units (LGUs), non-government organizations (NGOs), private sector, and other groups, DepEd encourages public-private partnerships in order to cover more beneficiaries for school feeding through the pooling of resources.
The BLT Program was lauded by DepEd Undersecretary Deriquito as a “very good and growing program” as JGF. works closely with the department to address the issue of hunger and malnutrition and develops a partnership model that involves various stakeholders. Deriquito mentioned three (3) specific fruits of DepEd’s partnership with JGF and other stakeholders. These partnerships have (1) generated more resources for school-based feeding, (2) enabled DepEd to organize a consortium of organizations that formulated standards and guidelines for the school-based feeding program that made it more efficient and more effective; and 3) contributed to demonstrating to our school children the value of working together and sharing of one’s resources.
One of the long-term ideals of BLT is for the school feeding program to be institutionalized in order to cater all undernourished school children in the country. Senator Poe for her part filed Senate Bill No. 79 or the Sustansya sa Batang Pilipino Act which intends to address child malnutrition by pushing for a standard free lunch program for public school children. During the event, the Senator witnessed first-hand how the BLT school feeding program operates. Closing her speech with, “Ang lakas ng ating bansa ay nasa batang populasyon natin”, Sen. Poe expressed her determination to push for an institutionalized school feeding in public schools.
JGF President Grace Tan Caktiong pledged the continuing commitment and support of JGF to the Department of Education in addressing hunger and malnutrition among public school pupils. In a similar way, the Foundation expressed its support to Senator Poe’s advocacy of institutionalizing school feeding in order to give our Filipino children better nutrition which means better chance for them to be educated to become productive citizens.
There are three ways to become a BLT partner: 1) donate funds; 2) donate feeding ingredients and materials; and 3) implement BLT as your community relations/outreach program.
Everyone can also help feed pupils by donating through BLT coinbanks found in all Jollibee Foods Corporation (JFC) stores nationwide: Jollibee, Chowking, Greenwich, Red Ribbon, Mang Inasal and Burger King.