5,000 tonnes of food sit in warehouses as government cuts soup kitchen deliveries

Food aid was cut after the Human Capital Ministry claimed that half of Argentina’s soup kitchens did not exist

The Argentine government has confirmed that 5,000 tonnes of food are sitting in state warehouses while soup kitchens complain the Human Capital Ministry has not provided them with food aid since President Javier Milei took office in December.

The information was first published on Wednesday by news website El Destape. The report added that much of the food was about to expire, since the stock is left over from the Alberto Fernández administration. This means it is more than six months old. Presidential spokesperson Manuel Adorni has denied this.

In impoverished neighborhoods around the country, many people rely on food from soup kitchens (comedores in Spanish) to eat.

Soon after Milei became president, the Human Capital Ministry cut off food deliveries to soup kitchens, arguing that they were auditing the organizations and had identified irregularities. The ministry has stated that half of Argentina’s 40,000 registered soup kitchens do not exist. However, the judiciary has not ordered any raids or inspections, meaning the claim has not been proven. 

Social leaders have demanded that the government resume food deliveries while it investigates the allegations. Some soup kitchens are managed by people from social movements that oppose Milei’s administration. Social leaders are saying the decision to discontinue the aid is an attack on them. 

An organization of evangelical churches and the union of tourism workers are continuing to receive food for their soup kitchens after they reached agreements with the Milei administration.

“It fills me with anger and impotence,” said Viviana Rodríguez, who runs a soup kitchen in the low-income area of Villa 31. Rodríguez told the Herald her soup kitchen has not received any food since Milei became President. Due to the lack of funding, their traditional May 25 locro will be a “bare-minimum stew.”

“They know that there are people who have nothing to eat and they let that food go bad,” she added. This week, the Argentine Catholic University’s Observatory of Social Debt published a report stating that 55% of Argentines were poor and 18% were destitute during the first quarter of 2024. This means their monthly income is less than the total basic basket of goods and the basic food basket, respectively.

According to a survey by Córdoba Grocers Center’s statistics department, 18% of people said that at some point in April 2024 their family ran out of food. “26% of the families said that at some point their family felt hungry but did not eat, and 45% said that some of their members or the whole family stopped eating breakfast, lunch, tea, or dinner,” Vanesa Ruiz, vice president of the Grocer’s Centre, told the Herald.

Presidential spokesman Manuel Adorni said in his Friday press conference that the food is sitting in two warehouses, one in Tafí del Valle, in the northern province of Tucumán, and the other in Villa Martelli, in the Buenos Aires province.

A spokesperson for the Human Capital Ministry told the Herald that the food stash is to be used in disasters and emergencies. “It is a lie that it is about to go bad,” the spokesperson added. “They are non-perishable foods like rice, milk, noodles, yerba mate, oil.”

Patria Grande social leader and former presidential candidate Juan Grabois previously filed a complaint against Human Capital Minister Sandra Pettovello for not delivering food to soup kitchens. In a Friday X post, Grabois announced he had presented an extension for the complaint with the information revealed by El Destape.

Cintia Ávila, who runs the Ollas Poderosas (Mighty Pots) soup kitchen in a low-income neighborhood of Río Cuarto, Córdoba, called the Human Capital Ministry’s decision “horrifying.”

“We have more than 10 million people who depend on that food,” she said. “Because of pettiness and hatred towards impoverished people, we are going hungry when there is food going bad. What level of hatred and dehumanization can this government reach?”


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