SWS: 36% of Filipinos identify themselves as ‘food-poor’

Mara Cepeda
Around 7.9 million Filipinos consider themselves food-poor, the latest SWS survey results show

FOOD-POOR. Children wait for their turn to get food from a neighborhood feeding program. File photo by Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Around 7.9 million Filipino families consider themselves poor in terms of food, the latest survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) revealed.

This figure represents 36% of the respondents in a self-rated poverty survey conducted in the first quarter of 2015. The number is a 5-percentage point decrease from last December’s 41%, which equates to about 9.1 million families.

The SWS attributed this drop to decreases in “balance Luzon,” Metro Manila, and the Visayas.

The self-rated food poverty prevalence in “balance Luzon” went down to a record-low of 28% in March 2015, nine points less than that of December 2014. The figure for Metro Manila also decreased, from 24% to 20%.

Similarly, only 45% of families in Visayas view themselves to be food-poor, showing a 6-point drop from last year.

However, the number of self-rated food-poor families in Mindanao has remained at 52% since September 2014.

The SWS survey was conducted from March 20 to 23, 2015 among 1,200 adult heads of households nationwide.

More budget for food

The SWS survey also showed a median food poverty threshold in all 4 areas: P9,000 in Metro Manila, P6,000 in “balance Luzon,” P4,750 in the Visayas, and P5,000 in Mindanao.

The food poverty threshold corresponds to the lowest monthly food budget needed by the lower half of food-poor families to not be considered as such.

The SWS noted that the figures from last March were at record-high levels except for the Visayas.

In a text message sent to BusinessWorld, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said that “[t]he decline in self-rated poverty, accompanied by a larger drop in number of food-poor… provides proof positive that… poverty reduction programs of the government are bearing fruit.”

The survey results were first published in BusinessWorld.

Still not enough

The said budgets may not be enough for a day’s worth of nutritious meals for a Filipino family, which usually consists of 5 members.

According to the latest Family Income and Expenditure Survey by the Philippine Statistical Authority, each Filipino household allots 42.8% of its monthly income for food expenses. (READ: Is the minimum wage enough for a day’s worth of nutritious meals?)

A family in Metro Manila will then have a monthly food budget of P3,852 ($86)* or P128.40 ($2.88) for a day’s worth of meals. For a family in the Visayas, that will be P2,033 ($45) for food per month or P67.77 ($1.50) per day.

Currently, 19.9% of children 5 years and below are underweight, while one in every 10 adults lacks the daily energy requirements to function well. (READ: What’s the nutritiounal status of Filipinos?)

The Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, the Aquino’s administration’s flagship anti-poverty project, allotted P62.3 billion to address the needs of families living below the poverty line. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.