Hunger and poverty are not new in Argentina, but have risen abruptly over the past two years following the economic policies of the incumbent conservative government.
President-elect Alberto Fernandez met on Friday with a wide range of Argentine sectors and personalities to draft the first steps of his plan to tackle hunger in the South American country.
"Hunger is a consequence of an economic structure that does not work, where there is a lack of jobs, a lack of investment, where workers face a lot of abuse," Fernandez said, as he will take office on December 10 with the objective of addressing the deepening inequalities in the nation.
Fernandez highlighted that the issue of hunger was also closely linked to the quality of health.
"The State paid no attention to health prevention and diseases that were eliminated have reappeared. We will have to work hard," he urged those present in the meeting, including the President of Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, Estela de Carlotto, and TV host Marcelo Tinelli.
"I hope it is not just a government plan but a social decision, that as a community we stand up to end hunger," Fernandez said, calling for an open round table on the topic since in his opinion there has been a loss of awareness regarding the reality of this phenomenon, turned into a mere statistic.
Argentina’s economy has been in crisis ever since President Macri signed a multibillion-dollar IMF deal, the country has since experienced runaway inflation of over 50 percent, rising unemployment, and negative growth.
Figures show that 36.4 percent of the population is living below the poverty line, equivalent to 16 million citizens and that it has increased by over 8 percent in the last year alone, while 7.7 percent of them are also homeless, equivalent to 3.4 million Argentinians. Child poverty is particularly high, of those under 14, 52 percent are officially poor.
Around 13 percent of children and adolescents went hungry in 2018, according to data from the Pontificia Universidad Católica Argentina, and rising food prices have become a regular target of popular anger in street protests around the country.
Even as soup kitchens flourish, some volunteers say meals are getting more meager amid tight funding conditions and as food donations dry up.