Food stamp program to aid 190 families in Garchitorena
By Keren Anne Bernadas
NAGA CITY, Camarines Sur --- A total of 190 families in the town of Garchitorena in Camarines Sur are set to benefit from Walang Gutom (No Hunger) 2027, a food stamp program meant to lower the incidence of involuntary hunger in low-income households.
Garchitorena, a low-income municipality of 29,436 people, has been chosen as one of the program’s pilot sites owing to its high incidence of hunger, malnutrition and poverty.
“This program will alleviate the plight of marginalized fishers in Garchitorena who have lost their potential income due to persistent bad weather,” said Sheryl Miraflor-Lofamia, lead program implementer of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).
Starting February, the 900 families from impoverished households that were screened under a nationwide assessment of poor households undertaken in 2023 will be able to use electronic benefit transfer cards to be provided to them by DSWD on the second week. The card is loaded with food credits of P3,000 per month.
Lofamia, the food stamp program coordinator for Bicol, said the cards will be loaded twice, first for January and then on the fourth week of February for the current month.
The cards, which are non-transferable and will resemble debit or credit cards, will bear the name of the family’s cardholder.
“These cards can be used by household beneficiaries to purchase selected food commodities at any of the five DSWD-accredited merchant stores in Garchitorena,” Lofamia said.
The food groups that can be bought from DSWD’s “partner merchants” using these cards include rice, corn, noodles, bread, flour, pasta, grains, cereals, beef, pork, chicken, fish, coffee, milk, cooking oil, butter, margarine, among others, she added.
“Although the town has some accessible grocery shops, there are only a few of them. To address this issue, we have planned to organize at least one or two market days every month, and also set up clustered redemption areas for the family-beneficiaries,” Lofamia explained.
The DSWD has also collaborated with Kadiwa stalls from Pili town to bring their products to these areas, so program beneficiaries from Garchitorena can buy fresh, nutritious, and affordable agricultural products, she added.
Gachitorena, the pilot site of the program in the Bicol region, is home to impoverished families with five or more members.
The largest household recorded by DSWD had 15 members, including parents aged 40 years old and above, Lofamia said.
Lofamia expressed her appreciation for the active cooperation of the municipal government and leaders of the 23 barangays of Garchitorena in bringing together people from far-flung villages, saying it mirrors the whole-of-government approach of the program.
“Since this program is a flagship initiative of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., I encourage all government sectors, especially those with hunger-alleviating advocacies and programs, to work in coordination with the DSWD to provide better quality services to the target beneficiaries,” she said.
The program, which is modeled after similar long-standing initiatives in countries like the United States, takes the administration a significant step closer to achieving its goal of eradicating hunger by the time President Marcos steps down from office in 2028.
Its implementation aligns with the country’s pledge to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 2, which aims to end hunger, attain food security, enhance nutrition, and foster sustainable agriculture by 2030. (PIA 5)