Sunday, October 25, 2009

"Food as a Right" Policies

Name: “Food as a Right” Policies

Location: Belo Horizonte, Brazil

Years: 1993-present

Initiated by: Mayor Patrus Ananias

In 1993, the mayor of Belo Horizonte, Patrus Ananias, announced a new political policy centering around the concept that food was a right of all citizens. In effect, the government basically said that “If you are too poor to buy food in the market—you are no less a citizen. I am still accountable to you.” Ananias’ plan was to help the 20% of children going hungry and the 11% of the city’s population who were in extreme poverty, and he did this in several ways. First of all, the city offered local family farmers free public spaces in which to sell their produce. This kept prices low for consumers by eliminating the retailer’s markup, and it also was more profitable for the farmers since they didn’t have to give the retailer a cut of the profit. The city also established “ABC markets” for entrepreneurs at certain choice public spots, where the city sets a specific low price for 20 healthy food items at these markets. The set prices are usually about 2/3 of the market price, which is a significant discount. The rest of the food items can be sold at market price, but these specific set prices ensure that healthy food will be available at very low prices so that everyone can afford to eat well.

Another part of the mayor’s plan involved three places called the “People’s Restaurants”. These venues are large open-air restaurants that serve at least 12,000 people a day, providing healthy meals made of local produce for less than $0.50/meal. It is not a requirement to be poor to eat at these restaurants, but about 85% of the diners are. The other diners are usually people who are looking to save money while still getting a healthy meal that is better quality than many other more expensive restaurants. These initiatives together have helped more than 40% of the city’s 2.5 million people, as well as reducing infant malnutrition and mortality.

I think that these policies are very significant and influential, since Belo Horizonte is Brazil’s fourth largest city. Ananias is now the leader of the federal anti-hunger movement, which is a good sign--it shows that Brazil recognized how important and effective his work was, and decided to apply it on a larger scale. The “food as a right” policies also included community and school gardens and nutrition education classes. The government also helps support school lunches, and the food for these lunches now comes from local farmers instead of processed corporations.

No comments:

Post a Comment