Philippines prioritizes locally produced milk in national school feeding policy to address malnutrition

The challenge – malnutrition, school performance and school attendance

According to the Philippines Expanded National Nutrition Survey, one in four children between the ages of 5-10 were detected underweight.  One in four children were found to be stunted (height for age) and 7.8% children were wasted (weight for height)[1].  Using data from relevant studies, the Department of Education in Philippines aims to tackle the challenge of malnutrition in school children to enable better school performance and school attendance in the long-term.  School feeding and nutrition programmes have proven to have a major impact on children’s physical health, development and learning outcomes as, for many children, food at school is often the first meal of the day.  They have also proven to play an important role in supporting local agriculture development.  

The initiative – a School Based Feeding Program to improve nutritional status and school performance

To address this challenge, the Department of Education introduced a School Based Feeding Program (SBFP) with the objective of improving the nutritional status and school performance among school children.  As part of the initiative, and to ensure long-term sustainability of the programme, a law was enacted by the Government to institutionalize a national school feeding programme for undernourished children in public day care, kindergarten, and elementary schools.  The national school feeding programme benefits 1,837,000 mainly targeting the age group of school children from 5 to 12 years of age.   As part of the meals, fortified white milk and flavoured milk are being prioritized as a valuable source of nutrition.  The milk is being provided provides milk to supplement hot meals.

School feeding in Philippines, girl with fortified milk in Tetra Fino Aseptic cartons

The value – safe nutrition for school children using UHT milk

Given the infrastructure challenges and lack of refrigeration to distribute the milk, UHT (Ultra High Temperature) milk in Tetra Wedge® Aseptic 200ml. Slim was recently introduced so that children in various parts of the country could have access to safe nutrition.  The UHT milk is being delivered in 3 out of 17 regions in the first phase:  Bicol region in the North and Davao and Soccsksargen region in the South covering 359,557 children in total.  Tetra Pak and Tetra Pak Food for Development are providing technical support where we share best practices in school milk programmes organization and implementation, as well as providing environmental education. 

Moving forward

Throughout the company’s history, Tetra Pak has continuously supported customers and collaborated with relevant stakeholders in the development of school feeding programmes around the world.  Our aseptic processing and packaging technology plays a key role in providing children access to safe nutrition especially in rural areas where there is a lack of a cold chain and infrastructure challenges.

According to Ms. Marie Concepcion-Young, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Consumer Group of RFM Corporation, “Milk help school kids reach their physical and cognitive potential. Aside from making it accessible, it is imperative that the milk stays fresh and safe even as we transport it to hard-to-reach areas or those with limited storage facilities.” 

We have seen how effective these programmes can be in improving nutrition and education for vulnerable groups.  Our vision, We commit to making food safe and available, everywhere, is the aspirational goal that drives our activities so that children around the world can have access to safe nutrition.

“For decades, we have been working with our customers and relevant stakeholders to support school feeding programmes around the world because we believe these are effective in addressing poor health and nutrition in disadvantaged communities,” said Michael Wu, Managing Director, Tetra Pak Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, and Indonesia. He adds that “We are committed to making food safe and available, everywhere.  That is why we make sure that school children get all the goodness of milk to have the energy to stay in school and get that brain boost they need for learning.”

Tetra Pak believes that attaining a sustainable future is anchored on initiatives protecting people and the planet. That is why alongside its efforts in ensuring safe nutrition for children, Tetra Pak is also helping promote sustainability in various communities by providing recycling training for teachers and students. “Whether it is addressing food availability or environmental concerns, we believe that real, lasting impact in society can be achieved if stakeholders work together,” Wu concludes.

[1] Department of Science and Technology Food and Nutrition Research Institute:  Expanded National Nutrition Survey. Nutritional Status of Filipino School Children. 2019.