Once leftist union leader Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva was elected president of Brazil in 2003, he declared food a basic human right of the Brazilian people and created a program called Zero Hunger to help ensure that right. That national program now is paying off.
Da Silva was inspired by the locally successful food programs in the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte, launched in 1993 under then-mayor Patruz Ananius. The key principle of these programs was to make healthy and inexpensive food available to everyone in the city. Da Silva decided that these programs shouldn’t be limited to one city, but to all of Brazil, which is why the programs are now successfully running throughout Brazil.
Many innovations were developed to assure everyone the right to food. One of the biggest programs offers local farmers the opportunity to sell to urban consumers on public land. With this method, the profit of the farmers grows, and less fortunate people gain access to fresh, healthy food. The country provides five government-run cafeterias where citizens can get a hot plate of food for about $1.10.
Another aspect of this program is direct cash payments. This means that eligible citizens – a quarter of the nation’s 200 million people – receive an extra $40 a month from the government. This is possible because of economic growth that has created 10 million jobs in sectors such as agricultural exports and oil.
This ongoing success story has been underreported in the United States, a notable exception being Cecilia Vaisman’s April 2012 report on the American Public Media show Marketplace.
Vaisman, Cecilia. “Brazil Delivers on Hunger Promise.” Marketplace. April 4, 2012. http://www.marketplace.org/topics/sustainability/food-9-billion/brazil-delivers-hunger-promise
Student Researcher: Deborah Kelly, Frostburg State University
Faculty Evaluator: Andy Duncan, Frostburg State University