How long has it been since you filled your shopping cart at a supermarket? If you still can, how many products have you changed and/or reduced consumption? Even after this juggling between gondolas, how much? more Have you had to pay for the same fair in the last three years?
Answers may vary with each consumer’s economic situation, but consensus has been reached. lower income to middle classall families perceive a loss in their monthly income as inflation rises in Brazil.
Three years passed before any real earning on the minimum wage was achieved. With no margin beyond their own livelihoods, people are pushed into impoverishment and food insecurity.
According to the United Nations (UN) global index calculated by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in terms of giving an idea of the food prices reached in March this year, highest level in 61 years.
The problem mainly affects low-income social strata whose baskets of goods and services have greater inflationary pressure.
In this three-part series, northeast diary presents the stories behind the numbers, the reasons, and ways to correct the distortions caused by the overall increase.
In the Bom Jardim and Granja Lisboa neighborhoods of Fortaleza, we visited four families who had lost their purchasing power and had to give up some foods or even skip some meals to survive.
“God is what sustains me”
In the combined home of 49-year-old cleaning lady Cícera Batista in the Granja Lisboa district, images of saints strewn across the green walls, sprinkled with patches of cement, depict more than religious belief can justify: the search for a meaning to support truth when hunger knocks on the door.
“It is God who sustains me,” he said. The report arrived at his home at around 9:30 am on Wednesday in April. Cícera had not eaten that day. She was saving the bread she had managed to get for later. .
Thus, what would only be the first of his two daily meals would serve both breakfast and lunch. He said that day, thanks to donations, the refrigerator was not empty.
Living in scarcity has always been a reality for Cícera. After that income reduction He had already taken red meat off his shopping list after an accident three years ago.
The situation was made worse by the total loss of income at the start of the pandemic, but was tempered by Emergency Aid (temporary aid).
Currently, the family with two children lives on R$700; of which R$400 comes from Auxílio Brasil (renamed Bolsa Familia) and R$300 from the Bolsa Jovem municipal program.
Despite realizing that for about three years the pantry was shrinking, it was still possible to guarantee. part of the staple food on the table. But in recent months inflation has skipped vegetables, milk and other meats from this family’s menu.
The 21-year-old girl is looking for a job and is taking a pre-university course at Ceará State University. (together). Most of the money the young woman receives goes to snacks outside the home, school supplies and bus tickets. The rest goes to household expenses, she.
His youngest son, 17, can only eat all the necessary meals as he spends the day in public school.
“Since February, I stopped buying vegetables, milk and oil. I can still set aside R$10 a month to buy bananas, oranges or lemons from a man who sells them at the door,” said Cícera, saying that he only reserves the fruits for his children’s consumption.
His diet is limited to lunch and dinner, only rice and beans on his plate. Sometimes, Cícera manages to buy chicken pieces or donate ground beef.
“If it wasn’t for Ingrid (community leader) and my daughter, I would starve,” she complained.
Of the 700 BRL received monthly, 320 BRL is for paying electricity, water, gas and internet bills (rented for children’s reading during the epidemic). The rest goes to food and transportation.
“It’s hard for me and for everyone else. There are many families suffering here, people who got 400 BRL from Bolsa Familia and still have to pay 300 BRL in rent,” he said.
In the midst of difficulties, Cícera tries to complete seventh grade through Youth and Adult Education (EJA), but almost gives up.
In addition to the already meager budget for food, the cost of bus tickets is high. feeling weak and dizzy oftenmakes learning difficult.
Seeking medical care in health centers has also been exhausting. There is only money for the journey. Can’t stand it anymore. When she’s in pain, she buys a dipyrone tablet for R$2.50, the only medicine available for Cícera.
Inflation is highest for the poorest
Rising food prices exacerbate economic asymmetries. In Brazil, families low income According to the Institute for Applied Economic Research (Ipea), it has experienced 12% inflation in the last 12 months (up to R$1,808.79).
Those with a household income above R$17,764.49 recorded an accumulated variation of 10%. This is because the basket of products and services differs according to each social stratum.
For example, inflationary pressure exerted by food in March for low-income consumers was driven by increases in rice (2.7%), beans (6.4%), carrots (31.5%), potatoes (4.9%) and milk. (9.3%), eggs (7.1%) and French bread (3%).
The readjustment of city bus fares (1.3%) and electricity (1.1%) also weighed on this population’s budget.
On the other hand, inflation for the highest-paid per application declines in transportation, reflecting a 6.7% increase in gasoline, 13.7% in diesel and 8% in automobiles.
How does the effect reach Ceará?
The Broad National Consumer Price Index (IPCA) for the Fortaleza Metropolitan Region (RMF) has reached 11.31 percent, said Daniel Suliano, public policy analyst at the Ceará (Ipece) Institute for Research and Economic Strategy. last 12 months (until March).
During this period, the food group reached 10.61%. He adds that in 2021, inflation as measured by the same index was already 10.63% and 9.47% respectively, thus indicating strong cost pressures since then.
Considering that the food group accounts for more than 20% of these families’ budgets, this undoubtedly affects low-income people more.
“Also, there has been a fall in real wages, causing the short blanket problem: In the logic of the family budget, it takes the head to cover the feet,” he said.
Suliano emphasizes that more than 1/5 of the family budget in Ceará is devoted to food.
“1/5 of those who earn BRL 1,000 differ from those who earn BRL 10,000. In addition to consuming the largest share of those earning less, the scenario of sustained price increases further reduces the purchasing power capacity of the poorest,” he thinks.
Cruel choice between meals: “lunch or lunch”
“In February, my husband began to despair when he saw that my children were hungry. He left the house saying he was going to get the courage to do something stupid like 12 pm and buy the kids food to eat. When I believed it, I was 1 year old. At 30 pm, he called me saying he had been arrested”.
The report was received from Natália de Sousa, a 35-year-old housewife who is a mother of seven children (3 months, 2 years, 5 years, 8 years, 13 years, 15 years and 17 years).
Living on a single income of R$730 from Auxílio Brasil for over a year, the family has not been able to withstand the recent increases in food.
“Four months ago I stopped paying the electricity bill to buy food. When I buy the ‘Bolsa Familia’ I use all the money to pay the man I bought it on loan at the bodega. There’s nothing left,” he calculated.
Natália buys a basic basket from her neighborhood market: rice, beans, eggs, pasta, bread, and pretzels. Fruits and vegetables are no longer part of the diet of children who already suffer from a restrictive diet.
“The doctor on duty said they missed a calcium ‘job’ and needed to eat fiber as well. They also gave me a vitamin but I could never buy it,” she explains.
Natália adds that she sometimes buys garlic, lemon or parsley to complement her meals.
During the week, older children have a regular diet at school. The mother who takes care of small children at home cannot eat properly. Breakfast is bread – rarely accompanied by powdered juice.
Lunch is rice, beans and eggs. Dinner leftovers.
“There is no dinner. In the life of those who do not have any condition, this is how it is: either snack or lunch,” he reaffirms.
She says she does not visit her husband because she is ashamed of the situation, has no one to leave her children with, and is paid for public transport fares.
“It was always difficult. when it [marido] I worked, I got about R$ 900. “I never even had enough money to buy furniture, but at least it was enough for the kids to eat,” she recalls.
More than half of the population already lived in food insecurity
According to the National Survey on Food Insecurity in the Context of the Covid-19 Pandemic in Brazil, developed by A.S., in 2020, more than half (55%) of Brazilian families in Brazil did not have access to essential foods for a regular diet. Brazilian Research Network on Sovereignty and Food Security (Red Penssan).
The percentage represents 116.8 million Brazilians in this situation. Of these, 43.4 million (20.5% of the population) were dying of adequate meals (moderate or severe food insecurity) and 19.1 million (9%) were starving (severe insecurity).
The figures, collected from 5-24 December 2020, reflect the impact of the health crisis on these families. But she is the research and advocacy coordinator in Social and Economic Justice at the Oxford Committee for Hunger Reduction. (Oxfam Brazil)Jefferson Nascimento stresses that if this study were done today, “it would point to a much higher number.”
“At the time of the research there was still Emergency Aid. So this scenario got worse. There is now Auxílio Brasil, but its coverage is much smaller than Emergency,” he observes.
The trajectory of Cícera and Natália mentioned in this article examines the current state of this population.
In the next chapter, this Wednesday (11/05), you’ll learn the stories of two other women who struggled to manage their family budget in the face of high food prices. Thursday (12/05), the report discusses possible ways to curb the rise in hunger and food insecurity.