The Pandemic Of Hunger

| Educate!

Above photo: Bill Hackwell.

In April, the World Bank predicted that the Brazilian economy would shrink by 5% of GDP by 2020. Now, in June, the prediction is 8% to 10%. And the government’s expected 2% growth.

As the pandemic mainly affects self-employed and informal workers who, in order to survive, cannot be confined to their homes, the number of Brazilians in poverty is expected to increase this year from 41.8 million (2019) to 48.8 million people, equivalent to 23% of the population.

The poor are all those who survive on a daily income of less than R$27.5 ($5 USD) or a monthly income of less than R$825. This year there will be 7 million more Brazilians. The emergency aid has eased the social drama a little. But until when?

A survey conducted by Plano CDE, a company that analyzes life and consumption in classes C, D and E, indicates that between March and April of this year, of the 58 million Brazilians in classes D and E (with monthly incomes of up to 500 R) 51 million saw their income reduced by half or less. And of the 100 million in class C (with monthly incomes between R$500 and R$2000), 29% suffered the same loss.

Of Brazilian families, 70% with a monthly income of less than R$3,135 depend on favorable economic cycles to feed themselves and pay their bills. With the Covid-19, everything indicates that this year these families will be extremely indebted. In April, the increase in debts in class C was 36%, and in classes D and E, 47%.

According to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), between 2009 and 2019, the number of slums grew by 107.7%. Today, there are 13,151 in 734 municipalities, and 5.1 million people live in them. With the 10% drop in GDP this year due to the pandemic, this situation tends to worsen unless a minimum income program is approved for each family living in a favela.

Brazil today has 28.5 million unemployed people. The figure was released by IBGE on June 16. Of that total, 17.7 million declared they were unable to seek employment due to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic.

Latin America and the Caribbean are home to 8.5% of the world’s population. Between 2000 and 2020, hunger was reduced almost to half in the 33 countries of the region. From 73 million to 38 million hungry people, according to FAO. This happened thanks to progressive governments, which implemented social policies, school feeding programs and measures to support family farming.

But a setback began in 2015, the same year as the launch of the UN Agenda 2030, whose Sustainable Development Goal is “zero hunger”. The number of people living with food insecurity in Latin America and the Caribbean reached 43 million in 2018. By 2020, ECLAC expects an increase of 16 million in extreme poverty. That reality is portrayed by the White Flag Code, now adopted in several countries, including Peru, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador: the family without any food places a white cloth in front of its house as a sign that it needs urgent food relief.

There is no shortage of food on the Continent. There is a lack of justice. Today, 84 million children in Latin America and the Caribbean depend on school to have access to good food. Of these, 10 million eat only a minimally nutritious meal when they receive a school lunch. Now the virus excludes them from school and brings them closer to hunger.

ECLAC and ILO estimate that Covid-19 will result in 300 million more poor people in the region, 83 million of whom will be in extreme poverty. The continent’s GDP should decrease by 5%. This is due to the paralysis of internal markets, the decrease in the flow of global chains, the fall in the prices of raw materials and the interruption of informal work by migrants. The crisis will raise the unemployment rate to 11.5%, which means 12 million new unemployed. There are currently 25 million. By the end of the year it will be 37 million.

Today, of the 292 million workers in Latin America and the Caribbean, 158 operate in the informal sector. Among young people between 15 and 24 years of age, the rate reaches 62.4%. The pandemic has led to the loss of 80% of the income of informal workers. Worldwide, 60%.

Latin American and Caribbean governments allocate only 0.7% of GDP to the most vulnerable populations. At least, it should be 3.4% to guarantee the survival of 214 million people who will enter the ranks of poverty in the rest of the year. The countries most affected will be Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Ecuador and Nicaragua.

According to the ILO, this great lockdown has thrown 2.7 billion people worldwide into unemployment or informality. At the global level, the World Bank estimates that the Covid-19 crisis may add 70 million people to the 632 million who survive today in extreme poverty, that is, people with daily incomes of less than R9, 50 or monthly incomes of less than R285. It will be the worst recession in eight decades.

The number of food-insecure people in the world may increase by 250 million. More than 30 countries are threatened by the hunger pandemic. The UN Global Food Crisis Report 2020 reveals that there are 318 million people in 55 countries who are acutely food insecure. Many have something to eat, but not enough calories per day. If we take into account caloric intake, the number rises to 2.5 billion undernourished people. Aggravated by the Covid-19, the causes of hunger remain: armed conflicts, extreme climatic conditions (environmental imbalance), difficulties in accessing land and employment, and economic turbulence.

The British Reverend Thomas Malthus was deluded to predict, in 1789, that in the centuries to come food production would grow arithmetically (1-2-3-4) and population geometrically (1-2-4-8). There would be more mouths than bread. When he declared this, the world had a billion inhabitants. Today there are almost 8 billion of us and there is enough food left over to satisfy at least 12 billion human beings. Therefore, what is missing is to share it. Hunger persists because there are many landless families and many lands in the hands of few families.

Billions of families have no resources to buy food, which has ceased to have any use value, with capitalism, to have any exchange value. This commodification of the most essential good for our biological survival is a horrendous crime. Farmers can no longer bring their products to market to sell them. They must hand them over to a middleman who resells them to the system that processes, transports, packages and distributes them to the points of sale.

Today it is the banks, multinationals and pension funds that dominate the food market and promote speculation through commodity derivatives. When there is an interruption in that chain, farmers are forced to burn or bury the products. A crime against humanity practiced in honor of the god of Capital.

Source: Cubadebate, translation Resumen Latinoamericano, North America bureau

  • Aggravated by the Covid-19, the causes of hunger remain: armed conflicts, extreme climatic conditions (environmental imbalance), difficulties in accessing land and employment, and economic turbulence.

    Another article on PR that speaks of a global problem – starvation – and only mentions its cause; capitalism, in the fine print.

    There is enough food in the world to feed everyone.

  • Nylene13

    Stop Eating Meat. Meat is not healthy for humans, or our Planet’s Environment, or the Animals.

    What is rarely discussed about the c. virus is that the same kind of bats that caused this virus were at a Government China Bio- weapons lab -right down the road from a meat market that sold the same kind of bats -for humans to eat.

    Stop eating meat. Have a nice veggie burger instead.

    The Black Beans ones are good.

  • iowapinko

    Yes. The problem of hunger is systemic. The capitalist goal is to accumulate profit for the owners. Food for the people is an afterthought.

    Not only that. The food that is produced does not provide adequate nutritional value, and contains toxic residue of an agricultural model based, once again, on profit above all else, including human health.

    Capitalism is literally starving, sickening and poisoning the population. Fortunately, this is a problem with a ready solution. Design economic models to meet the needs of ALL people and our planet.

    Socialism cures hunger.

  • iowapinko

    The black bean burgers from Aldi’s are extra yummy.

  • Nylene13

    I just found a recipe for sweet potato and black bean burgers.

  • sabelmouse

    but i only just started again after getting malnourished on veg. can’t do beans any more. or the cabbage kind.
    maybe it’s living in ireland. so little grows 🙁 so much land only suited for grazing.

  • sabelmouse

    indeed! and now even more with this corporate takeover of everything!

  • Nylene13

    Sounds like you should move.

  • sabelmouse

    let’s all move to nevada, the most , oh wait, water ! good luck.

  • Must try them thanks for the suggestion.

    I am a new Aldis shopper as a new one recently opened next to my (prepandemic) gym. They have some great bargains there. I carry huge reusable bags with me and fill them as I shop to avoid the carts.

  • iowapinko

    I like Aldi’s because it is unionized (at least it is in my town). Also, they are a German corp and have an especially good selection of good quality cheeses and CHOCOLATE. Plus, because they are European, many products are non-gmo. Their prices are lower than other groceries in my community.

  • Prices are great for produce and dairy for sure. I hardly go down the center aisles of any store, but I am a fan now for sure.

  • NightriderXP1

    They’ve built a few small Aldi’s here in St Pete. I’m curious. Does your Aldis force you to rent a shopping cart if you need one???

  • iowapinko

    Yes, they charge 25 cents to rent a cart, which can be irritating if you are like me and don’t carry much cash. I have learned to just keep a few spare quarters in my car.

    I live in a neighborhood where cash in general is hard to come by, and so there is often an enterprising ‘grocery assistant’ who offers to help load groceries and return the cart in exchange for the quarter.

    Aldi’s is the only grocery in my neighborhood. Before they built their new store here, we were a “food desert” and had to drive over a mile for groceries. We do have a farmers’ Market in season, but I haven’t gone to that since the pandemic began.

  • Robert

    The Farmers’s Markets in our region have worked closely with the health dept. to make sure best practices are in place. Sorta weird a single path and a single entrance, but friendly, excellent produce.

  • NightriderXP1

    I think the 25 cent fee for a shopping cart is the strangest thing I’ve ever heard of at a grocery store. It’s almost like Sam’s Club’s no bags policy. They’re intentionally making it harder for their own customers to shop. I would understand if they implemented the policy because they were losing a bunch of shopping carts. That’s why I asked if they have the same policy in Iowa. It appears to be a chain wide policy, not based on location…

    Strangely, St Pete barely has any grocery store competition even though it’s a massive city. Publix bought all of the Albertsons. I think there may be one Winne Dixie left. Basically, we’re down to Walmart, Sam’s Club, and Publix with a couple of very tiny Aldi’s stores…

    That’s nice that they help you load your groceries. I remember a time when customer service was normal, not an exception. It’s good to hear that it still exists in some areas…

  • It means they don’t have to have a cart storage place in the parking lot, and no workers to bring carts back. In the early pandemic stages, they didn’t charge the quarter and a worker handed you a sanitized cart. Now it is back to the fiddling with a quarter and no cleaned carts, so I just bring big bags and carry what I need.

  • NightriderXP1

    I don’t know about your Aldi’s stores, but ours never appear to be very busy. There seems to be plenty of room in the parking lot to allocate space for used shopping carts. I understand that shopping carts are probably a huge hassle for any grocery store, but it seems that their business model intentionally decreases their sales. The shopping cart hassle was a deal breaker for me. And our stores are tiny…

    There’s only one other grocery store that annoyed me more. They designed the layout so that everyone was herded like cattle through the store. If you wanted something at the far end of the store, you still had to go down all of the aisles that everyone else was forced to go down. I only visited that store once. I followed the customers in front of me and eventually walked out without buying a thing. But it took about 15 minutes to get from one end of the store to the other. It wasn’t a big store either. I was pretty annoyed when I walked out the door…

  • The cart thing at ALDI is definitely a PITA, but if you go prepared it is not a big deal.

    It is in the same mall as my (pre pandemic) gym and when the gym, and restaurants in the mall, were open the parking lot was always packed.

    Your other store sounds terrible!

  • NightriderXP1

    So it sounds like if you rent a cart, you can’t use it to carry your groceries to your car since there is no allocated place to park your cart when you’re done with it? I suspect that means that a lot of people wait at the front door and wait for someone to pull their car up to load their groceries. Or do people only typically buy enough that they can carry???

    I hate shopping, so when I do, I buy enough to last a very long time. That’s why I prefer to buy in bulk. I screwed up and ran an experiment, starting Nov 4, to see how long I could go without grocery shopping. I made it over 4 months. Of course I ran out of everything right when everything was shutting down for COVID-19. My timing was horrible. My biggest gripe about Publix is that the product packaging is small for most products, which means that if I bulk shopped there, I would produce a lot more garbage for the same amount of product. I suspect that the same is true with Aldi’s since ours are so tiny and they don’t have a lot of shelf space for their products…

    I have friends who swear by Aldi’s. One of them shops every single day. I can understand why it would work for her. I highly doubt that she could go 4+ months without grocery shopping if she had to…

  • You can take the cart to your car but have to return it and you get your quarter back. Too big a PITA, so I just buy what I can carry. I got two huge reusable shopping bags that go over my shoulders and I can carry a gallon of milk in my hand. 🙂

    Yeah, the useless over packaging is terrible at almost every store.

    4 months without grocery shopping? Wow. Not much fresh produce at your house, eh? 🙂

  • NightriderXP1

    That probably helps build strong muscles, especially if you buy more than normal…

    When I lived in my apartment before buying this house, they installed a trash compactor clear on the other end of the property. Since I produced very little garbage, I only needed to take my garbage to the compactor once per month. If I could have opted out of receiving junk mail from the USPS, I probably could have stretched it longer. The vast amount of garbage I toss is junk mail and there’s no way to opt out of any of it…

    No, I buy things that can last forever if need be. Of course I’ve found that some things don’t last forever when I thought they would. I had A-1 Steak sauce on my shelf dated to expire in 2002. I could see that it definitely wasn’t the same stuff I bought 18 years ago. I don’t know if it would have made me sick or killed me, but it wasn’t worth trying. I doubt that it would have tasted good. I still haven’t bought any TP. The last time I bought it was Dec 2018. I may have enough to last a few more months so hopefully they finally begin selling the product I want to buy when I’m ready…

    The only fresh stuff I buy are lettuce and onions for my sandwiches…

  • If you only shop once every 4 months, your bread, lettuce and whatever you make your sandwiches out of can’t be too pretty at the end of the cycle! LOL.

    I buy a lot of fresh produce and that is heavy. I compost whatever trimmings that my dogs don’t eat (they flip for any vegetable/fruit scraps but cauliflower is by far the fav.), but no way could I get away with taking garbage out once a month. There is way too much plastic packaging on every darned thing.

  • sabelmouse

    a cashless society is something we must resist.

  • sabelmouse

    lidl is even better. i think you have some in the usa as there were people from there here in ireland lidl shops training. i don’t know how it’s different from other shops.

  • sabelmouse

    all carts in ireland take coins. though aldi only takes 2 euro coins. lidle takes 50 cents, and 1 eros as well.

  • NightriderXP1

    I mostly buy hamburger buns for my sandwiches. Apparently, they’ve made them so that they can last forever. I never get mold on the buns like used to happen pretty quickly before. Since the buns have so much chemical preservatives in them, my body probably won’t decompose when I die…

    The buns at the bottom of the stack get flattened a bit so they’re not quite the same as fresh bread. But the flavor isn’t any different. I only buy enough lettuce that I can use before it begins to spoil. I’ve mostly got it down to a science. I rarely have to throw away any rotten lettuce. So I use up everything that can spoil early on, then switch to things like frozen lasagna and spaghetti that can last a very long time until I’m ready to use them. I rarely have to throw away any spoiled or unused food. Just about everything I eat can be cooked in the microwave or my George Foreman grill. The bulk of my diet is frozen until I’m ready to cook and eat it…

    I know I should include vegetables and fruits in my diet but I’ve never liked them. Since they don’t last long, they just don’t fit in well with my system. Every once in a while, I’ll try to spice up my diet with some fresh carrots, radishes, and/or oranges, but I grow tired of them quickly. And they often spoil before I can finish them all…

    One of the big benefits of buying bulk is that it reduces my waste. There simply isn’t as much packaging so there’s far less to throw away. My system wouldn’t work for everyone, but it works well for me and my strange eating habits…

  • Geez man, sounds like you are barely hanging on from a nutritional pov and you are right, you are likely already half embalmed. 😮

    Do you like fresh cooked food when you eat out?

  • NightriderXP1

    This is my 2nd attempt to respond. I’m guessing that this site doesn’t allow links, so I’ll leave that out this time:

    I’ve always been a finicky eater. I probably drove my mom crazy. She tried to force me to like other foods but after a while, she finally gave up. She should have known better. Apparently when I was a baby, I didn’t like cottage cheese so they tried to disguise it to get me to eat it. After eating it, I threw up. They always told me that I would learn to like the foods I disliked when I grew up but that isn’t true. I’ve done some research to try to find out why I dislike so many foods people like and found that it’s possible that I may be a supertaster:

    Super-Tasting Science: Find Out If You’re a “Supertaster”!

    To supertasters, foods may have much stronger flavors, which often leads to supertasters having very strong likes and dislikes for different foods. Supertasters often report that foods like broccoli, cabbage, spinach, grapefruit and coffee taste very bitter.

    I hate going to eat at friends homes in fear that they’ll prepare stuff I despise. I don’t want to hurt their feelings but I can’t force myself to choke those foods down and put on a nice smile either. Once, my dad ate something that I thought was really nasty. He went back twice for more. He likes everything but this was really nasty. I asked if he liked it and he said he didn’t. I thought it was strange that he went back for 3rds for something he didn’t like. I can’t do that. I can’t eat the first helping…

    When friends invite me over for dinner now, they usually ask what I would eat since I’ve warned them how finicky I am…

  • Funny you mention about supertasters. I have a friend who says he is a “supersmeller” and can detect odors that only 1 in 100 people can. Imagine that.

    I can imagine it is a bit awkward eating at other people’s homes with such strong aversions and it is good your friends ask you about what you can eat beforehand.

    (no they don’t like links on this site)

  • NightriderXP1

    We know that dogs can smell a lot of scents that humans typically can’t. It wouldn’t be surprising to discover that some humans have far better sensory perceptions than others. I don’t enjoy being a finicky eater because it’s pretty limiting and it can be awkward. People who invite me to eat at their homes know me well, so they seem to understand my qwerky eating habits. They do forget sometimes though. I have a friend who loves to cook so she’ll bring stuff over for me to eat later. Sometimes she includes stuff I won’t eat…

  • kaarin again

    Who knows ,hunger may come if this just continues, is with Tump in charge.