Walang Gutom 2023: Addressing Hunger with the Food Stamp Program

July 18, 2023

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The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) is taking proactive steps to address the pressing issue of hunger in the country. In response to the alarming findings of a Social Weather Stations survey published in May, which revealed that approximately 2.7 million families had experienced involuntary hunger, DSWD Secretary Rex Gatchalian announced the launch of the Walang Gutom 2023: Food Provision through Strategic Transfer and Alternative Measures Program, also known as the Food Stamp Program. This program aims to make a significant impact on alleviating hunger by providing strategic food assistance to those in need.


The pilot phase of the Food Stamp Program marks an important milestone in the fight against hunger. By testing its effectiveness in addressing the immediate food requirements of vulnerable households across the nation, the DSWD aims to create a safety net that ensures no Filipino goes hungry. Through this initiative, they hope to foster a more resilient and food-secure society, where everyone has access to nutritious meals and no family has to endure the hardship of involuntary hunger.


What to Know About the Pilot Phase


The Food Stamp Program introduces a practical approach to address hunger. Beneficiaries will receive electronic benefit transfer cards, which will be loaded with food credits amounting to P3,000 per month. These credits can be utilized to purchase specific food items from retailers registered or accredited by the DSWD. By providing this assistance, the program aims to alleviate hunger while supporting local farmers and fisherfolk.


Secretary Rex Gatchalian | Image from the Philippine Star


Secretary Rex Gatchalian emphasized that the program is fully operational, with the availability of the "Kadiwa ng Pangulo" card starting from Tuesday. This card serves as a modality to demonstrate that the program encompasses a comprehensive farm-to-table approach. By integrating local farmers and fisherfolk into the program, it not only provides a platform for them to sell their agricultural products but also addresses the pressing issue of hunger within the country. This holistic implementation ensures that the program not only tackles immediate food needs but also supports the local agricultural sector, fostering a sustainable solution to hunger.


An Opportunity for Job Generation


Secretary Rex Gatchalian addressed the concerns raised by peasant groups who advocate for long-term solutions to improve local food production. He emphasized that the Food Stamp Program should not be seen as a mere "temporary solution." In response to these criticisms, the program includes additional components to ensure the beneficiaries' holistic development.


Under the program, beneficiaries are not only provided with food assistance but are also required to participate in capacity building and development training. Furthermore, they are encouraged to become part of the labor workforce. Secretary Gatchalian highlighted the importance of this approach, stating that they directly linked energy levels and the ability to work to proper nutrition. The ultimate goal of the program is to empower beneficiaries to become active contributors to the nation's progress over three to four years. By nourishing individuals adequately, they can find the energy needed to participate in nation-building endeavors.


Secretary Gatchalian further explained that once individuals secure employment, they can transition out of the program, signifying its success. The DSWD's role is to support individuals until they can sustain themselves independently. By helping beneficiaries find job opportunities, the program fulfills its purpose and accomplishes its mission.


Tondo, Manila | Image from RedDoorz


The pilot phase of the food stamp program comprises 50 families from Tondo, Manila. These families are, according to Gatchalian, the poorest food-poor families and pregnant and lactating women.


The Walang Gutom 2023: Food Provision through Strategic Transfer and Alternative Measures Program is reported to be financed in full by grants from the French Development Agency, the Japan International Cooperation Agency, and the Asian Development Bank.