Laura is 45 years old and lives with her six youngest sons and daughters, between 6 and 16 years old, in Marcos Paz. A decade ago, a shot in the arm forced her to prematurely withdraw from the police, and even before the quarantine she worked in private security in the Caballito neighborhood. With that, he supported his family. But the pandemic changed everything. “I have two asthmatic daughters and the risk of continuing to travel to the city every day was very great,” says Laura.
For the first time in her life, this mother who receives neither the Universal Child Allowance (AUH) nor any other benefit had to ask for help to feed her children, going to the All for Children Civil Association. “Before, in the fridge I had milk and cheese.
He ate four times a day at home
. Today, only one, almost always chicken noodles or some soup. I am very concerned that my children do not have the nutrients they need and
tell them ‘there is no today’.
It’s an ordeal, “describes Laura.
The history of his family is just one of the many that, since the COVID-19 pandemic reached Argentina, have swelled the ranks of those who suffer
severe food insecurity
. In other words, they had to restrict the meals of their children or adolescents due to lack of financial resources. In several cases, these are households that, for different reasons, are not beneficiaries of social programs.
During the quarantine, food insecurity in the Greater Buenos Aires Metropolitan Area (AMBA) climbed to 30%, while in May last year it was 26%. However, there was an even more significant increase, of almost nine percentage points, in severe food insecurity, which represents the most serious situation that households go through when they should
of his sons and daughters up to 17 years old. That urgent indicator went from 6.5% to 15.2% between 2019 and 2020.
The figures are derived from the report “The situation of childhoods in times of quarantine”, which was presented today by the Argentine Social Debt Observatory (ODSA) of the UCA and to which LA NACION exclusively agreed. It shows how the
occurred despite the fact that
more than four out of 10
(46%) of households with children in situations of greater vulnerability
receive any food benefit
: Alimentar card (29.2%), food bags (16.1%), food or lunchroom merchandise (20.7%).
“The increase occurred in households that were below the poverty line but were not beneficiaries of social programs nor are they currently. In this context, their income from work decreased significantly,” explains Ianina Tuñon, researcher in charge of the ODSA . The specialist details that, while food insecurity speaks of households that cannot guarantee a sufficient diet in quantity and quality for all its members, the severe one focuses on those who “have experienced some situation of hunger with their children.”
From the Ministry of Social Development, they reported that they increased the budget of their five lines of food assistance: Food Card (1,500,000 cards, which in April received a double payment); purchase and distribution of dry foods in social or religious organizations; 3,000 dining room agreements and a 50% increase in funds; the budget was increased to 150% in school canteens compared to 2019; and 500 million pesos were transferred to provinces and municipalities for food and cleaning supplies purchases, which doubled in May.
The study seeks to account for the impact generated by the mandatory isolation on the homes that reside in the City and 30 parties of the Buenos Aires suburbs. It focuses on food insecurity, access to health and educational continuity.
From the ODSA, they point out that severe food insecurity is much more severe in Greater Buenos Aires than in the City. Who are the most affected families? Those who are in the lowest social strata and are
, in general, with female headship, as in the case of Laura. “Although the situation is clearly more serious in the most vulnerable populations on which food aid is focused, it is noted that the situation could have been worse without such coverage,” the report stresses.
A desperate scenario
In the dining rooms of the City and the suburbs, the despair of the families
stalked by hunger
it is felt daily. “There are no more four meals a day. Many eat only once, at about 18, and what they eat also does not have enough protein or vitamins,” says Lidia Giagnoni, 63 years old and more than 30 which is a social reference in Marcos Paz.
There are no more four meals per day. Many eat only once, at about 18, and what they eat does not have enough protein or vitamins.
Lidia Giagnoni, All for the Children
Retired as a nurse, she is the founder of the All for Children Civil Association. “Many are families who do not enter the system and do not receive any social plan. We have several cases of de facto separated women, whose ex-husbands are blank and do not spend money on them,” says Lidia, who highlights the seriousness of the situation: ” Some worked hourly in family homes and do not have permits to leave. They had never had to ask in the dining rooms and today they do not even have milk. ”
When the quarantine began, 50 families from the La Trocha neighborhood attended from the dining room. Today, they estimate that
they reach about 700
in different neighborhoods, such as Bicentenario, Santa Catalina and El Prado. The civil association does not receive any government support and is supported only by donations. “Many of the factories that always supported us today are closed. We are left with nothing. The only thing we have in quantity are noodles. With a little vegetables, small chicken and paprika, you can make a pot,” says Lidia. Milk, vegetables, and meat became luxury goods.
After enduring many years in which she and her children were victims of violence, Laura separated, in fact, from her ex-husband. It was almost a decade ago and, at this time, he says that he never spent “even a peso” for the boys. He has two daughters with asthma, ages 13 and 15, and the eldest often suffers from crises that end up on guard duty. In the municipality, he got tired of knocking on doors. “We don’t have the life of before and my children realize it. They give us a bag of food per week from school and Lidia helps us a lot. The situation is very complicated”, Laura describes.
People cry when we bring them food and it is very painful to tell them that you have no more to give them
Verónica Hernández, Sol Naciente community center
, the situation is similar. In the Illia neighborhood, a few meters from the town 1-11-14 -one of the neighborhoods in the most critical situation due to the pandemic- is the dining room of the Sol Naciente civil association. Verónica Hernández, its founder, says that 400 people attend, most of them children and the elderly. “The city government gives us 160 rations, we cover the rest with donations, but it is not enough. The situation is very sad. People cry when we bring them food and it is very painful to tell them that you have no more to give them,” he says. Veronica and anguish seeps into her voice. “There are two pandemics here: the coronavirus and hunger,” he summarizes.
Veronica stresses that those who now began to lengthen the ranks of those waiting for a plate of food are neighbors “who had work, a bank account and social work, they do not receive AUH or anything.” Sadness is palpable on every face. “We are not able to cope. We are seeing our neighbors who are sick or dying and we cannot approach or hug them,” he concludes.
How to collaborate
- All For Children Civil Association:
they need food, warm clothes and blankets. To collaborate, contact Lidia by calling 11-6577-5433.
- Rising Sun Civil Association
: requires food, warm clothes and slippers. In addition, a membrane for the ceiling of the dining room and a hot water tank. Veronica, who is a nurse, would also like to work closely with the Ministry of Health of the Nation to reach out to families in the neighborhood with prevention workshops: “My dream is to train them in health,” she says. To communicate, call her at 11-5707-2160.