Manila, Philippines — Starting this July, the food stamp program of the Philippine government is expanding its scope to cover single parents and breastfeeding mothers, following the approval of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. This move is aimed at enhancing the First 1,000 Days Program’s efforts to eradicate stunting through proper maternal nutrition and child-feeding practices.

According to the Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rex Gatchalian, the addition of single parents and breastfeeding mothers will significantly improve the fight against stunting and hunger. He states that “the President has instructed us to combat stunting and hunger by combining the resources of various government agencies for a more cohesive approach. By introducing stunting into the equation, which is an irreversible condition, we can combat it more effectively.”

Gatchalian emphasized the importance of the first 1,000 days- from pregnancy to lactation, as a critical period that must be given utmost attention. Reports indicate that stunting in children already happens before they reach daycare, thus the government plans to address the issue even before children enter any facilities. This marks the first time that the country will implement such a comprehensive program.

Health Secretary Ted Herbosa revealed that there is a significant number of Filipino children who are stunted. Around 20% of children between 0 to 23 months old and 28.7% of those under five years of age suffer from this condition. The government aims to cut these figures by half before the end of the Marcos administration in 2028.

Herbosa highlighted the importance of providing proper nutrition during a child’s early years, as it can have a significant impact on their growth and development. “If you want human capital that will work and excel in school, you need to feed them well during their early life years because that’s where growth and development occur,” he said.

The Philippine government’s efforts to alleviate poverty and malnutrition have taken a significant stride with the food stamp program pilot run. The program aims to assist one million families, who are in dire need of nutritional support. The beneficiaries of the program will be provided with food credits worth P3,000. They can use these credits to purchase select food items from DSWD-accredited local retailers.

This pilot run is a comprehensive approach to eradicating hunger and stunting in the country. By including single parents and breastfeeding mothers, the government is displaying its commitment to providing adequate nutrition to all its citizens, especially during a child’s first 1,000 days. This move is a promising step toward addressing the underlying issues that perpetuate poverty and malnutrition in the Philippines.