Councilor Levy Lloyd Orcales has drafted an ordinance providing free daily meals to college students from low-income families including student assistants who are enrolled in any public or private higher educational institution in the city. Under the proposed ordinance, to qualify for the free youth meal program, the student must belong to a low-income family; maintain passing marks
in all subjects; and not be a recipient of any subsidy provided by the local government unit.

The proposed free meal program shall benefit 100 students but may be increased yearly upon the
recommendation of the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO). The applicability and duration of the program shall be within one academic year exclusive of the summer term. All qualified students shall be eligible for yearly renewal. The allocation for each qualified student per month shall not exceed P1,000.00. Any unused amount shall be carried over to the succeeding months until the end of the current academic year.

The city government shall reimburse all youth meals consumed by the beneficiaries monthly through a food voucher system. A memorandum of agreement shall be undertaken between the city government and the school. The proposed ordinance aims to complement other existing government efforts to promote proper nutrition to college students and mitigate student hunger.

“This program may not be able to fully support the education of our Baguio youth in colleges and universities, but this would be a complementary program that supports our call for an equitable, accessible, and pro-student education system,” Oracles stated. The proposed ordinance is akin to Republic Act 11037 otherwise known as the “Masustansyang Pagkain para sa Batang Pilipino Act.”
Orcales deemed it necessary to enact similar legislation at the local level in favor of college students since RA 11037 only provides free meals to learners in the K-12 Program.

“Programs providing for free meals must not only be contained within the basic education level since our youth enrolled in colleges and universities are also being met with challenges in terms of their food provision,” Oracles said. Oracles also mentioned that, based on a number of studies focusing on student welfare, lack of government assistance to college students compels the youth to resort to various means to finance their own education such as gambling, running a micro/small
business, taking part-time jobs, gambling, renting out bed spaces, and sex activities.

He said such activities may put young people at a disadvantage, thus the need to expand the government’s support and programs to accommodate “deserving” students to help them focus on
and prioritize their studies. The proposed ordinance has been referred to the city council’s Committee on Youth Welfare and Development for review.

SP/Jordan G. Habbiling

Amianan Balita Ngayon