LN – Popular economy: addressing food insecurity in the Buenos Aires suburbs

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Since he has the Food Card, Cintia can buy food that he had previously given up. At the monthly fairs organized by the municipalities get fruits, vegetables and meats at affordable prices. Credit: Ignacio Sanchez

For dinner, Cintia wants to cook fish fillet with salad. It does marinated or as a milanese. She lives in the Costa Esperanza neighborhood, a settlement of San Martín’s Buenos Aires party, with her husband, three children and the eldest couple.

Recently they started eating fish, it was when they gave him the Food Card and he was able to buy food that he had previously had to take out of the family diet.

Last night, he made potato omelette with noodles; during the week, he prepared rice with tuco and chicken; and another day, chard turrets with onion and bell pepper. “Mom cooks everything well,” said Santino, 6, while eating an apple, his favorite fruit.

Cintia cares about what the family will eat, looks for prices, walks a lot.

That is why he went by bus to the José León Suárez train station, to see what he could get at one of the popular economy fairs that the National government organizes in the conurbano, one of the urban regions most hit by food insecurity that crosses to the country.

The specialists assure that the measure applied by the Ministry of Social Development is good, but that by itself does not manage to solve the main problem, which is malnutrition. At the same time, users, who celebrate the possibility of buying good and cheap, still find some limitations when using the card, although from Social Development they estimate that in a few days, when the application of the postnet by cell phone works, many of those difficulties will be resolved.

The specialists assure that the measure applied by the Ministry of Social Development is good, but that by itself does not manage to solve the main problem, which is malnutrition.

Deep problem

According to the report presented by the UCA through the Observatory of Social Debt in Argentina (ODSA), the food deficit affects 26.6% of households, of which 7.4% suffer from severe food insecurity, that is, 1.4% more than in 2018.

This implies that more and more Argentines involuntarily reduce portions or frequency in meals, or that they are directly hungry.

If the focus is on children and adolescents, the numbers increase exponentially.

According to ODSA, total food insecurity

-which considers children up to 17 years old who live in homes where their intake decreased for economic reasons-

It reached 30.1% in 2019.

And with respect to those who live daily the experience of hunger – the extreme food risk – reached 14%. In Buenos Aires, where the largest number of children at risk is concentrated, the figure rose to 15.9%.

In this group, the most affected are boys from 0 to 4 years.

The food deficit affects 26.6% of Argentine households, of which 7.4% suffer severe food insecurity.


Cintia attends the monthly fair that is organized at the José León Suárez train station.
Cintia attends the monthly fair that is organized at the José León Suárez train station. Credit: Ignacio Sanchez

Among the actions to reverse this situation and alleviate hunger in early childhood, the Nation launched at the end of December the Argentine Plan Against Hunger, which

already delivered 1,000,000 of

food cards

, with amounts of $ 4000 or $ 6000 to buy food only. Thus,

reached 1,600,000 boys and girls from

0 to 6 years

, pregnant women and people with disabilities who access AUH.

The sociologist Agustín Salvia, director of the Observatory of the Social Debt of the UCA, considered that it is “a policy that will allow to attack a concrete problem that is hunger, but that will not necessarily affect the malnutrition of children, one of the serious childhood problems. ” For example, he recalled that “we are the second country in obesity in children under 5 in the region.”

However, he stressed that traveling fairs that are starting to work could be a way to bring healthier and low-cost food to families at risk.

At the opening of the 138th regular session of the National Congress, the president

Alberto Fernández assured

that the Plan “is also a tool to motorize the economy below

upwards

. A virtuous chain, which brings producers and consumers closer to local businesses, so that the injection of more than 70 billion pesos per year (more than 1,000 million dollars) represented by the Alimentar Card remains in the towns of our country. ” Another strategy is the empowerment with the Pro Huerta program, which will allow the establishment of more than 200,000 family gardens, and the development of effective tools to monitor price developments.

Within the framework of the Plan that directs Social Development,

The municipalities began to organize monthly fairs where healthy food is sold at affordable prices, prepared by cooperatives, recovered factories, small businesses and family economy producers.

Direct selling is a way to avoid intermediaries in the commercial chain, encourage cooperativism and bring fresh and agroecological products to reasonable values. It is also one of the ways to develop regional economies.

It is a policy that will allow to attack a specific problem that is hunger, but that will not necessarily affect the malnutrition of children, one of the serious problems of childhood.

Agustín Salvia, director of the ODSA.

“We have been working with food sovereignty and, specifically, with fairs for a long time, so that people can buy directly from the producer.

But it is something that in the last two years consolidated, there was a boom of the fairs, for the context and the need

“, explained Gonzalo Reartes, in charge of the operation of the popular stores and political responsible in San Martín of the Popular Front Darío Santillán, one of the social organizations that have a position in José León Suárez and where Cintia bought onions, pears and apples with the card.


In the fairs it obtains foods elaborated by cooperatives, recovered factories, small companies and producers of the popular economy.
In the fairs it obtains foods elaborated by cooperatives, recovered factories, small companies and producers of the popular economy. Credit: Ignacio Sanchez

In the neighborhood where she lives, this same group opened Me.Co.Po, a warehouse that operates from Monday to Friday and that already has the posnet available.

“With the card, every time they come, people spend $ 300 on average, they take vegetables and dried,” said Rocío, one of the girls who attends the place. Reartes adds that there they also give workshops to think about how and what we eat, and to see how to make different recipes with the products sold. “Our job is to see how we can work on popular consumption towards a horizon that has to do with analyzing where our food comes from and what our kids eat,” he said.

In this sense, the Minister of Social Development, Daniel Arroyo, said that “the cards not only allow families to buy food and aim for nutritional quality, but also provide a new economic movement: it is money that was not.” He also clarified:

“That does not have to generate inflation or raise prices. On the contrary, we have to help everyone, with promotions and discounts.”

The cards provide a new economic movement: it is money that was not.

Daniel Arroyo, Minister of Social Development.

Consequence of inequality

Malnutrition is another face of urban poverty, so focusing on what boys, girls and adolescents eat is also key and urgent.

The World Health Organization (WHO) mentions food insecurity as a strong consequence of inequality, which is growing rapidly in South America. This malnutrition can occur both due to lack (malnutrition, hunger, stunted growth, etc.) and excess (micronutrient deficiency, overweight and obesity). They are both sides of the same big problem facing the most disadvantaged social groups.

The day that Cintia visited the fair of José León Suárez, in the end he did not get the fish he went to look for, because that position was not there.

And while dairy prices were very good (1 liter of whole milk at $ 35, 320 grams of cream cheese at $ 76, 50 grams of gnocchi at $ 53 and two yogurts with cereals at $ 70), the organization of the economy popular that offered them, The Good Living, still did not have the posnet. In the position of Cooperative Foods, which did accept the card, those in charge say that what comes out most is the $ 20 cube broths, the missionary herb and the crushed tomatoes in a 950 gram jar of Mendoza, which cost $ 75.

WHO mentions food insecurity as a strong consequence of inequality, which has been growing rapidly in South America. This malnutrition can occur both due to lack (malnutrition, hunger, stunted growth, etc.) and excess (micronutrient deficiency, overweight and obesity).


The Argentina Plan Against Hunger contemplates the delivery of more than 1,000,000 food cards, with amounts of $ 4000 or $ 6000 to buy food.
The Argentina Plan Against Hunger contemplates the delivery of more than 1,000,000 food cards, with amounts of $ 4000 or $ 6000 to buy food. Credit: Ignacio Sanchez

Cintia thought about replacing the fish with the chicken, maybe, making a vegetable stew

; or for the meat milanesas that he bought in one of the supermarkets that work with the Alimentar Card, which is close to his house and has good offers.

From Arroyo’s portfolio, they informed that “there are already almost 700,000 cards active throughout the country and consumption is especially focused on milk, meat, fruits and vegetables”

. The data arise from a survey conducted in Greater Buenos Aires between January 20 and 27, which indicated that 58% of the beneficiaries bought those products. Therefore, in the government they bet that these are the foods sold by the organizations that are part of the traveling fairs and that for many families are becoming the way to access a nutritionally more advisable purchase.

“When I have the boys, I make fruit smoothies with apple, banana, orange.

I am waiting for them to eat well and varied, and now with the card, if anyone asks me for a yogurt with cereals, I say: ‘Give it, grab it’, “said Cintia.

I’m waiting for them to eat well and varied, and now with the card, if anyone asks me for a yogurt with cereals, I say: ‘Give it, grab it’.

Cintia

FURTHER

.


Publicado en el diario La Nación