By Zaldy De Layola

Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Rex Gatchalian (File photo)

MANILA – Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rex Gatchalian has described the recently launched WALANG GUTOM 2027: Food Stamp Program (FSP) as the government’s investment in the poor Filipinos.

“The direction of President Ferdinand Jr. Marcos Jr. is very simple: Let’s invest in our people,” Gatchalian said in a news release on Monday.

On July 18, the DSWD held a pilot launch of the FSP, which aims to provide food credits worth PHP3,000 to qualified food-poor families to enable them to purchase healthy food items from DSWD-accredited retailers.

Gatchalian said the menu of food items was developed and certified by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI).

He emphasized that the FSP is not a dole-out program since the beneficiaries need to meet certain conditions of the program.

Through the help of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and the Technical Education And Skills Development Authority (TESDA), the beneficiaries are expected to join in capacity building and training to improve their employable skills.

“There are conditions before one can be a part of this program. First, the beneficiaries can choose only from the list of food. Second, because they are no longer hungry or their hunger has decreased, they now have energy to work, so we have work as another condition. It is important for them to be able to support the family. It is important that they find a job with the help of DOLE and TESDA,” he explained.

Gatchalian also clarified that the FSP is still under pilot implementation until March 2024 to determine the program design’s strengths and chances for modifications.

About 3,000 low-income families identified through the Listahanan 3 and are under the food-poor criteria of the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) will be the pilot beneficiaries of the FSP.

The DSWD vowed to continue making innovations and new programs to address the social welfare and developmental needs of the poor Filipinos as part of its main mandate, Gatchalian said. (PNA)