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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Gov’t to launch food stamp program Tuesday

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Six-month pilot run of the program will start with initial 50 poor Tondo families as beneficiaries

The government will roll out its food stamp program Tuesday, with 50 poor families from Tondo, Manila as initial beneficiaries, the Department of Social Welfare and Development said Saturday.

DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian said the pilot implementation of “Walang Gutom 2027: Food Stamp Program” would have a “gradual phasing.”

“We will inform you with the details on Monday. It will grow bigger until we hit the pilot mark na 3,500 families nationwide,” Gatchalian said in a news forum in Quezon City.

“After six months of its initial run, we will look at the results. If we get positive results, then we scale up, where it will be initially 300,000 families, and then another 300,000 the year after, until we reach our goal of one million families identified as food-poor,” Gatchalian said.

The Walang Gutom 2027 program, under the directives of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., will provide assistance to eligible families through electronic benefit cards similar to tap cards, loaded with food credits instead of cash.

Gatchalian said the use of e-cards would eliminate the chances of buy-outs, similar to those in ATM cards.

“The goal of this program is to empower our countrymen—food-poor fellow citizens—to choose the right needs of their family,” he said.

The DSWD also worked with Technical Education and Skills Development Authority to provide reskilling opportunities, enabling participants to gain appropriate skills and certifications and increasing their chances of finding employment.

Gatchalian said the pilot program received $3-million in funding from the Asian Development Bank and other stakeholders.

The ADB and the World Food Program will jointly oversee the funds and procurement processes for the pilot run.

Gatchalian said they would disclose the complete details on Monday. “We will kick off on Tuesday,” he said.

The program aims to eradicate hunger and poverty by providing an allowance to at least one million “food poor” families or those earning less than P8,000 a month to purchase a select list of food items from accredited local retailers.

“The food stamp program has conditions for the beneficiaries, including attending nutrition classes and having one employed family member who can later take skills upgrade training under the Department of Labor and Employment or Technical Education and Skills Development Authority,” Gatchalian said.

The DSWS would receive a P40-billion budget for the full run of the program until 2027.

Gatchalian said for fiscal year 2024, the agency earmarked P2.1 billion for the program, but the amount could still go up depending on the results of the pilot run in the second half of 2023.

Gatchalian said he was looking forward to working with Presidential Adviser for Poverty Alleviation Lorenzo Gadon.

Gadon, who was appointed presidential adviser last month, said he would focus on strengthening micro-industries to provide jobs for Filipinos and would push for a nutrition program called “BBM: Batang Busog, Malusog” to help address poverty.

The program’s mechanism aims to change the behavior of the beneficiaries, the social welfare chief said. He said this would be different from the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps).

The program also seeks to support local farmers by ensuring that their products are bought by the beneficiaries.

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