Food security in times of pandemic

Image: Silvia Faustino Saes


Ensuring access to food, especially in the pandemic caused by COVID19, should be considered a political choice

Eating is a political act, as Carlo Petrini teaches us, but not guaranteeing access to food, especially in the Pandemic caused by COVID19, must be considered a political choice. Despite government initiatives such as the guarantee of continuity of emergency aid in 2021, as well as the defense of income transfer policies based on state and municipal legislation, the fight against hunger has been one of the main flags in these times.

If we consider the central policy as hunger being emergency aid, the data presented by the Dataprev portal brings us a huge warning. The contingent of 107 million direct beneficiaries is targeted especially at women, who are responsible for registering and in 2021 approximately 70% receive an average amount of 150 reais. Last year, the same audience was allocated a budget of between 1.200 and 600 reais, which was reduced by half. This year, the unemployed between 2020 and 2021 will not have access to the program, often having the only access to basic food baskets that guarantee mostly industrialized food.

Misery surrounds Brazilian society, especially the poorest. This great national concern is accompanied by the motto: vaccine in the arm, food on the plate, it cannot be left unsaid! It is not possible for a country that feeds the world and has one of the most important health systems to have people balancing on buses between COVID and Hunger.

However, the way out of this pandemic in an emergency way comes from government actions in a delicate way. Food collections and the strategy of donating basic food and hygiene baskets are an important response, but precarious, as it does not consider the long-term reality. Civil society is given a responsibility that is also state.

It is in the pandemic that hunger, a reality prior to the calamity, takes shape in the lives of the poorest. And how can the State ensure Food and Nutritional Security? Currently, the low budget destined for other dimensions of life worries the future of the country. The population's lack of protection began in EC 95 and increased the precariousness of the Social Assistance, Health, Family Farming, Employment and Income Generation and Education policies.

Public Policies must be an integrated response in the fight against poverty and hunger. In addition to Food and Nutrition Security, as recommended by Federal Law 11.346/2006. SAN, as it is affectionately called by social movements, only exists if its intersectoral character is motivated, as well as respect for Democracy and Political Participation, in times when the current government extinguishes the main democratic instrument that debates food and nutrition in the country : the CONSEA.

The month of June brings the symbology of World Food Safety Day. Brazil, for decades, was an example of fighting hunger, with millions of families leaving the extreme poverty line. This trajectory was built through the struggle for the realization of the right in SAN. We cannot leave what matters most to us, life, in the field of the past.

Fighting to guarantee access to food and that it is produced on an agroecological basis and that it is nutritionally adequate for the population must not cease to be on our horizons. Every scientific production that presents this reality as the Food Insecurity Survey, every support to rural and urban movements and every opportunity to bring the right to life into our daily conversations is part of the collective resistance that marks us as a Brazilian people, class that fights, resists and dreams, even in turbid times like the present.

*Leonardo Koury Martins is a Professor Social Worker. He works in the Frente Brasil Popular and in the Regional Councilor of Social Service of Minas Gerais.

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