Food was the top expenditure of those who received cash aid from the government's SAP or Social Amelioration Program that was meant as a financial lifeline during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a survey.
The SAP recipients also bought hygeine kits and medicine according to a poll of 3,600 households by the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the United Nations World Food Program from July to August.
More than half, 58%, used the money to pay off some debt, according to the survey.
The survey showed that 67 percent were forced to buy less-preferred and less-expensive food items. More than half borrowed food from relatives and friends. Three out of four households saw a decrease in income due to work and travel restrictions, while 11% adopted nutrition-deficient diets.
Forty two percent of those who ended up being unemployed were from the transport sector or skilled labor force; 83 % resorted to selling their assets, borrowing money, or reducing non-food expenses.