The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)-7 will soon be providing monthly food credits worth P3,000 to low-income households in the region through a food stamp program.

Established through Executive Order (EO) No. 44 signed by President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., the Walang Gutom 2027 Food Stamp program aims to address hunger and malnutrition in the country.

DSWD-7 Director Shalaine Marie Lucero, during the "Kapihan sa Bagong Pilipinas" forum on Tuesday, June 11, 2024, said low-income households and those not accepting aid under the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) are qualified for the food stamps, which will be provided through an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card after validation.

In the form of EBT Cards, the P3,000 food credits can only be used at accredited community-based organizations, Kadiwa centers, merchants, and retailers.

The card also features a point-of-sale system (POS) for beneficiaries to purchase selected food types that adhere with the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI): 50 percent protein, 30 percent carbohydrates, and 20 percent fruits and vegetables.

Lucero clarified that beneficiaries can only buy items from the list as the program is designed solely for nutritious foods, and no cash is involved.

Aside from this, the Food Stamp Program includes monthly education sessions for families about nutrition and basic food groups facilitated by Barangay Health Workers in every local government unit (LGU).

In Central Visayas, DSWD s initial target is Negros Oriental and Cebu Province with a total of 31,748 household beneficiaries.

According to Lucero, while the pilot implementation is ongoing in different parts of the country, the DSWD has already started validating beneficiaries in Bacong, Dauin, and Mabinay in Negros Oriental, as well as in six LGUs in Cebu Province: the cities of Naga and Danao, and the towns of Liloan, San Fernando, Minglanilla, and Compostela.

"Hopefully, as soon as everything is in place for the Walang Gutom, unya maka kick-off nata sa implementation, we will definitely inform the public about it," Lucero said.

Meanwhile, Lucero addressed concerns on why some senior citizens have allegedly not received their social pension.

According to her, senior citizens aged 60, who have resided in Cebu City and voted in the recent elections, regardless of their status, are eligible for the P1,000 monthly stipend. Lucero said they should be included in the city's beneficiary list anytime soon.

However, in region-7, the social pensions of senior citizens are subject to assessment and validation due to funding constraints.

"In the case of the national government that is run by the DSWD, our social pension is intended only for indigent senior citizens who are 60 years old pataas. But because of fund limitation, gihatagan nato'g priority ang mas dagko'g edad," Lucero said.

She added that some LGUs only cover senior citizens who are 70-years-old and above, depending on the available list in their LGU.

Priority is given to senior citizens who are frail, sick, and with disability; do not have a Social Security System (SSS), Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), and other pensions; and they also do not receive support from their families.

Lucero also said that there are around 50,000 waitlisted beneficiaries in region-7, but they cannot be served until the funding is increased.

"We assure sa mga senior citizens nga wala mu-undang ang DSWD og submit before the Congress and before the Senate of the total number of eligible beneficiaries," Lucero said.

As of June 2024, a total of 261,704 senior citizens out of 299,737 have received their monthly stipend from DSWD.

Lucero said the department will finish distributing the allowance to all beneficiaries within the semester.


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