The government has announced the expansion of existing food aid schemes to vulnerable sectors, with some four million children set to benefit from the measures.
The move is a response to soaring food prices and price increases and was the flagship announcement at last Friday’s meeting of the Consejo Federal Argentina contra el Hambre (“Federal Council of Argentina Against Hunger”).
Inflation in the first quarter of 2021 reached almost 13 percent and the hikes show no sign of slowing down, with 42 percent of Argentina’s 45-million population now considered poor, though the rate is even higher among those aged under 18.
On Friday, the government announced that the Tarjeta Alimentar food card scheme is to be expanded for vulnerable families with children aged six to 14. Previously, 1.9 million youngsters up the age of six benefited from the scheme, which will now be extended to around four million youngsters.
"Among boys and girls under the age of 14 years, six out of ten of them are below the poverty line," said President Alberto Fernández, who called for greater solidarity from the food business sector when setting prices.
“The sector must find a limit where, in solidarity, we say, enough, let’s think about our people,” said the president on Friday.
Families with one child will receive a card with 6,000 pesos, those with two aged under 14 will receive 9,000 pesos and those with three or more will receive up to 12,000 pesos.
According to the president, the food aid programme will require an investment of 250 billion pesos (approximately US$2.5 billion) from the state this year.
"The State is making an effort – tell me what efforts the rest you are going to make to get Argentina out of poverty," Fernández fired off to those at the event.
Prices rose 36.1 percent in 2020, according to official government data, and rose 4.8 percent in March alone. Food prices rose 44.8 percent year-on-year from March 2020 to March 2021.
Among other measures, the national government also announced plans to introduce ‘mobile’ travelling food markets that will offer fresh food at low costs and price reductions for 11 cuts of beef of “up to 40 percent” compared to butchers shops.
According to reports, the president clashed verbally at the event with Daniel Funes de Rioja, the president of COPAL (Coordinator of Industries of Food Products) on the subject of IVA (VAT, value added tax) on food.