BUENOS AIRES – The Argentinian government began on Monday the distribution of 560,000 food cards in the populous districts of Buenos Aires province, which houses the country’s capital of the same name, in order to ensure the poorest sections of society have access to food.
These food cards, which can only be used to procure food and not withdraw money, were among the initial measures launched by the government led by Alberto Fernandez within days of assuming presidency on Dec. 10. Their nationwide distribution will take at least until March.
Social Development Minister Daniel Arroyo handed out on Monday the first cards at a gymnasium in Almirante Brown, in the south of what is known as Gran Buenos Aires, where thousands of women turned up.
Arroyo said that there was no place for hunger and malnutrition in Argentina and acknowledged that the huge turnout at the event was due to the acute social problem prevailing in the country.
“In Argentina, there are many problems, but mostly two: the first is that month after month, milk consumption is dropping and that is a shame, and the second is that Argentina must be rebuilt from the basics, everyone has to eat,” Arroyo said.
The minister said that the country is a big food producer and hence there should be no hunger, with everyone having to access the basic food basket.
There was also a nutrition course offered for women to encourage consumption of milk, meat, fruits and vegetables.
The food cards carry a monthly value of 4,000 pesos ($63) for mothers with a child under six years of age, and 6,000 pesos for those with two or more children under the age of six.
They are also available to women from the third month of pregnancy and those with disabilities who receive a social allowance.
In rural or remote areas, where there is insufficient infrastructure for shopping using cards, food boxes will be distributed through health centers.
The cards are expected to reach all the 24 municipalities in the province of Buenos Aires in four weeks.
The government will inject some 2.8 billion pesos every month into the province’s economy through this system, which comes in addition to the Universal Child Allowance received by heads of households with minors and who are unemployed or earn below minimum wage.
Arroyo said that the food cards were also “a great work plan” because it promoted the growth of family farming and would mobilize the national economy, which has been in recession since April 2018.
The economic crisis in Argentina has in recent months led to an increase in poverty – affecting more than one-third of the population – and unemployment.