All posts by Rebecca


Dear readers,

As my semester of research on hunger in Brasil comes to a close, I wanted to leave you with a final verdict of my findings. Throughout this time my goals have been to first learn what hunger in Brasil actually looks like, then to analyze the steps the country has taken to fight this, to determine how successful or unsuccessful these strategies have been, and finally to resolve what the next step for the country should be in order to alleviate hunger once and for all.

When looking at a map presented by the World Food Programme, hunger in Brasil seems virtually nonexistent. According to this United Nations funded group, Brasil’s hunger situation is as trivial as it is in Europe and the United States, and is no cause for alarm. However, when looking outside of this biased map, it is clear that hunger is still very much a problem in Brasil. This view supported by the UN seems to be simply political propaganda in support of their new program, United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), to fight against poverty. However, the various news sources throughout Brasil paint the severity of the country’s hunger problem in a very different light. Unlike the World Food Programme, Brasil’s government news admits that, although progress has been made, Brasil’s hunger problem is still notable. However, the government news quickly brushes over this blemish to focus and promote the UN agenda of progress. Likewise, the perspective of news sources such as Carta Capital or Agência PT de Notícias are similar to the government news; they broadcast an idealized version of the problem and support the current government’s policies, regardless of the reality of the situation: “O Brasil assumiu o compromisso de erradicar a fome, e isso se traduziu em políticas sociais” (1). The current hunger problem in Brasil will continue to exist as long as the government, local, and global media outlets portray it as a problem of the past. When looking though this untruthful veil of progress to the millions of people facing unyielding poverty and hunger, it is clear that Brasil still has major work to do. Only by admitting to the limited success Brasil has had thus far in eradicating hunger, and focusing on creating a significant improvement on the living conditions of the hungry will true progress be seen.

The core problem behind Brasil’s hunger situation is limited access, not an actual shortage of food. People with a lower socioeconomic status or who live in more remote areas have less access to food due to their living conditions; ”people do not go hungry for lack of food but lack of income” (3). Whether or not this inability of citizens to obtain sufficient food changes depending on where the government chooses to funnel its efforts.  The government launched two major campaigns to fight against hunger in 2003 and 2010 (2). The first program, Fome Zero, focused on improving food distribution and creating better access to donations. This program ended a few years later when it was combined with welfare program, Bolsa Familia. The next program implemented, Brasil Sem Miseria, took into account that simply providing food will never relieve the root cause of hunger, but will instead create a dependent society. This program turned its focus to relieving poverty, so that, indirectly, the hunger problem would also be solved.

Both these programs received ample government support. The campaigns to fight against hunger and poverty were broadcast worldwide, leading to massive fundraising campaigns for the cause. New government organizations worked alongside Non-Government Organizations in an attempt to implement these policies. New laws were also created to support these welfare policies, like in 2010 when  “amendment No. 64 to Brazil’s Constitution declared access to food a social right” (1). These programs focused on some of the most impoverished communities in Northeast Brasil. Overall, Brasil has managed to become a global example for fighting poverty, mainly because their dedication was so well advertised.

Flash forward to today and hunger is sadly still a notable problem in Brasil. This begs the question: what did these promising government welfare programs actually accomplish? Despite all of the government support through funding, organizations, and laws, the fault in the government’s welfare policies was in their implementation. Although these policies offer wonderful ideas to lessen the burden of poverty, they have not been able to create any sustainable change in communities. For example, the Fome Zero project attempted to provide a school lunch program, but this was only a surface level success. This small victory did nothing to help the parents or children who did not attend school because the family’s conditions of poverty remained unchanged. Additionally, although some improvement could be seen in the most impoverished areas of the Northeast, the success of these programs never made it into urban areas which, consequently, never received as much attention or support (1). Lastly, one of the most detrimental failures is the programs’ lack of “social inclusion and integration” (1). The failure of these programs to include the people living in poverty into Brasil’s market ultimately led to the unsuccessful sustainability of these programs’ influence.

I cannot pretend to know the answer to eliminating hunger in Brasil; however, I will conclude with some potential solutions for eliminating Brasil’s hunger crisis once and for all. By creating more sustainable political agendas and strategizing better ways implement them, the government’s welfare programs could see more long-term success. There should also be a focus on favelas to encourage urban development away of poverty, which could indirectly lead to improvement in more social agendas than just hunger. The main solution I propose for Brasil’s hunger problem is to promote social change. If the government could use its widespread influence for shifting the world’s view on poverty instead of simply promoting shallow successes, assimilation for the impoverished into Brasil’s social and economic market may one day be possible. Only then will Brasil start to see zero hunger and become Brasil sem miseria.



  • Paes-Sousa, Romulo, and Jeni Vaitsman. “The Zero Hunger And Brazil Without Extreme Poverty Programs: A Step Forward In Brazilian Social Protection Policy.” Revista Ciência & Saúde Coletiva11 (2014): 4351-4360. Fonte Acadêmica. Web. 2 May. 2016.

Olhar Acadêmico Na Fome No Brasil

In their article titled, Fome Zero e Brasil sem Miséria:  um passo adiante na política brasileira de proteção social, both Dr. Jeni Vaitsman and Dr. Romulo Paes de Sousa discuss the progress both successful and non-sucessful that Fome Zero and Brasil sem Mistéria have had in Brasil.

Dr. Jeni Vaitsman studies health politics and polocies. Similarly, Dr. Romulo Paes de Sousa focuses on epidemiology, “specializing in health inequalities and social policy evaluation” (2). As the former Vice Minister in the Ministry for Social Development and the Fight Against Hunger (MDS) in the Government of Brazil, Dr. Romulo also helped to advise the government through his evaluations of social policy relating to health. Both author’s areas of study are apparent in their methodology of studying governmental policy changes and the effectiveness of those changes on the policies’ goals of relieving conditions of poverty in Brasil.

The paper frequently mentions the idea  of the multidimensionality
of poverty. It argues that the welfare program Fome Zero could only be so successful because it was lacking the multidimensional aspect of poverty. By simply focusing on access to provided food and nutrition, the program does not provide a sustainable solution for the  conditions of poverty causing the hunger in the first place. The article uses Brasilian law and the analysis of policies to explain and support the authors’ arguments. An example of law they use to show some success in the flight against hunger in Brasil is “In 2010, amendment No. 64 to Brazil’s Constitution declared access
to food a social right” (1). So although this government support can be seen as a success for combating hunger, the article qualifies it by sharing the idea that these laws and welfare programs lack successful implementation causing their failure in creating sustainable solutions. The paper uses the measurements of improvements to government agendas for these welfare programs as its basis for evidence of progress in them. Using government policy as evidence clearly aligns with both authors’ areas of expertise, giving me confidence that there is intelligence behind their arguments. However, in my opinion Brasilian government policy  cannot provide an accurate representation of the actual degree of successful implementation of these social welfare programs. One of the paper’s concluding arguments is that the current welfare program being used to help fight poverty and indirectly hunger,  Brasil sem Mistéria like Fome Zero has had success in more rural areas where the programs are first targeted, but the success has not yet spread to poverty seen in urban areas (1).  The final point made about these two social programs in Brasil is that although they have had undeniable successes in helping to improve the lives of the impoverished, it is going to take a lot more than a supportive government policy being implemented to end conditions of poverty. Without society working just as hard as these programs to change the current situations of huger and poverty, they will be inevitable.


  1. Paper: Paes-Sousa, Romulo, and Jeni Vaitsman. “The Zero Hunger And Brazil Without Extreme Poverty Programs: A Step Forward In Brazilian Social Protection Policy.” Revista Ciência & Saúde Coletiva 19.11 (2014): 4351-4360. Fonte Acadêmica. Web. 21 Apr. 2016.

2. Background Dr. Paes de Sousa:

3. Background Dr. Vaitsman:

4) Image:


Visual Da Fome No Brasil

Uma cartão da Fome Zero traz lágrimas aos olhos de uma senhora.

Above is a photo taken of a woman receiving her government issued card for Projecto Fome Zero. This is a very powerful, seemingly candid photo showing the significance of receiving the card bringing tears to the woman’s eyes. However, after watching the film “Quanto Vale, ou É por Quilo?”I am more skeptical to believe that this is a truly candid photo and not part of a staged photo shoot funded by the Fome Zero campaign. Either way the woman’s visible reaction to the card strengthens the idea of the card’s impact in the lives of the poor to the photo’s viewers. This photo also supports a common theme of subconscious racism found in Brasil. The person receiving the card, and in theory moving closer to success, also happens to be the person with the lightest color skin in the photo. The two black people in the photo are in small in the distance of the background insinuating their insignificance to the government, and separation from potential success. The most interesting aspect of this photo to me is how the face of one of the black people in the background is almost symbolically covered up by the government’s program card. This invisibility of identity can signify the unimportance of poor individuals to the government, and instead the importance of how their program and the bigger picture are viewed. Unlike audio and written sources, visual sources allow for loud implicit messages to be shared with its viewers through emotions seen, emotions evoked, and body language. At first glance, this photo appears to be a simple ad for a successful welfare intervention, but using the depth gained from its implicit messages this photo transforms into so much more showing the gaps in the government’s program to end hunger in Brasil.

 Photo Source:

Fonte De Áudio Sobre A Fome No Brasil

In this song “Comida” written by Titãs back in 1987, messages about food and government assistance are shared that are still applicable to the hunger problems in Brasil today. When reviewing the song lyrics the ones that most clearly portrayed a message of dissatisfaction with government aid were: “A gente não quer só comida”. Which translates to We do not want just food. This idea of not being satisfied with simplistic necessities for life is repeated throughout the song with items like, food, drink, and money. The song uses the word “a gente” in order to create a unified voice for the people of Brasil. Titãs’s message explains that food is simply food, and money is only money which means that these very basic need that the government is providing does not create a sustainable improved quality of life for the people they are helping.

By studying audio sources we are able to gain unique insight that is lost in text sources.  From rhythm, volume, and the poetry of words specific to lyrics audio the way an audio source is heard adds a new depth to the message being portrayed. Titãs song is categorized as Brasilian rock featuring strong beats and a yelling tone to his voice. By portraying his message of dissatisfaction in a rock song it is easier to pick up on his demanding tone for change. The tone of his singing has more of a speaking quality than a melodic one, making this song and its message easy to repeat by any listener. Through Titãs demanding tone his song calls “a gente” to mandate a change in the government’s support which is not fixing the hunger problem still faced in Brasil.

Although audio sources provide new and different insights not found in texts, they can indeed have a downside. Audio sources like this song portray a very biases position on an argument, only expressing dissatisfaction without any concession to the opposing argument. While the song does a good job of expressing the emotion behind the message, it also does not provide any real evidence to support the argument’s claim. Without the explicit evidence, or source documentation found in texts it is hard to deem the song’s message as a reliable source of factual information. Even thought this song may not be the most historically accurate source of information on the food problem in Brasil, I still feel that “Comida” provides valuable insight into the emotions felt by the people of Brasil towards the government’s attempted aid to the hunger problem.


Fontes De Notícias Sobre A Fome No Brasil

In my research into how hunger in Brasil is reported by media output in the country, I was able to discover very different portrayals of the problem depending on the political bias of the source.

Sources such as Carta Capital and Agência PT de Notícias, both of which I would consider to be leftest, tended to be the most straight forward in their analysis of the hunger problem in Brasil. They acknowledge that the problem is not a lack of available food in the country, but rather a lack of access due to limited money or other resources. Both news sources seem to almost paint an idealized version of the problem; however unlike their conservative competitors not, by pretending the problem of hunger no long exists. Instead they show that yes, the government is attempting to increase income of these communities of families living in poverty, and yes, there has been a large decrease in the amount of hunger left in these communities. In their idealized picture they seem to leave out that there is still a large issue with the income security these families have despite government efforts. If the government’s plan is not working, is it possible that the institution itself could not be working as well as everyone believes? On the other hand, these leftest sources do include that despite government efforts, in 2013 there were still large differences between communities with access to food, and that those who have had little access are still struggling.  This point concedes that that access to provided  aid resources are not as widely available as the program idealizes. The political agenda conveyed by these sources is to highlight the skewed distribution of wealth (depicted by the ants in the image above), and focus on fixing this distribution in Brasil.  They send the message that providing the poor with food and money would improve lives and the country.

Agência PT:

Carta Capital:

On the other side the more conservative news source, Globo, merely mentioned the hunger problem in Brasil as if it were an old fad that had already been dealt with. Instead, Globo focused on obesity which they have reported to be a greater problem than hunger. I am not trying to make the point that I do not think obesity is a serious problem as well. My point is that both obesity and hunger are serious problems for Brasil, and both should be respected as such. Not only does having food available matter,  but the kinds of food available are equally important for a country’s health.  By focusing on obesity they fail to include the problems of hunger in Brasil. I thought it was interesting how in the more conservative source, which would be most widely read by whites in higher classes in Brasil, who are most typically be of European decent, talks about France as an inspiration. This subtlety reinforces looking to Europe as a leader for ideas and practices.


The news reported on hunger in Brasil presented by the national government’s webpage trys to remain the most neutral of all the new sources reporting on the subject. Instead of elaborating  on problems of hunger that still exist in the country, Portal Brasil‘s report focuses on overcoming the problem by creating a sustainable supply and future for poor communities. They promote a political agenda of progress. The seed distribution discussed is supposed to allow economic equal opportunity for farmers since in theory they can sell the seeds and the food they produce. This government site is where  many Americans would look to hopefully find reliable information on current issues in the country, so for this reason the report solely focuses on presenting a vision of positive progress. They attempt to move away from the more impoverished stereotype Americans give Brasil and South American countries.

Portal Brasil:

This video clip was originally broadcast as a television new story by Repórter Brasil. This video is almost comical in how detached this Brasilian media outlet portrays itself from its own country. Their story focuses only on the area where the project Zero Hunger began, which presets a bias representation of the program’s progress since this is the area it has been working in the longest. Repórter Brasil choose to show video footage of the community before the government’s influence in black in white as if to detach it from reality and make it seem like an old world instead of in the modern era which it was filmed. The footage after the implementation of the Zero Hunger project was shown in color to represent bringing the community into the 21st century by providing new technologies and advancements; the contrast back to color was like bringing Dorothy to Oz.  Despite the problems of poverty that still remain prominent in the region, towards the end of the video the reporter mentions how the misery in the community has disappeared thanks to the small advancements made. This conservative bias of the hunger problem again ignores to highlight the poverty that still exists after the program, and how the distribution of wealth plays a role in the on going hunger problem that bringing food cannot fix.

Repórter Brasil:

Mapa da Fome No Brasil

This map was produced by the World Food Programme, to show the intensities of hunger seen in countries around the world as of 2014. The map focuses on what the World Food Programme considers to be the direct results of its project called “Zero Hunger” highlighting the countries that are in the most dire need of immediate relief, and the difference a small donation can make.

The world map shown was created and endorsed by the World Food Programme as part of ts Zero Hunger campaign. The WPF is an organization supported and funded by the United Nations. Because this organization is funded by the UN, their map is very selective with the areas that show hunger, and depicts Brasil has having almost no hunger. They depict Brasil this way to try and create supporting evidence that their Zero Hunger program works in order to gain the support of more donors. It makes perfect sense that WPF and the UN would not want to highlight how there is still an unfair distribution among those that are hungry in countries that seemingly have little problems according to the map. The incomplete view their map shares leaves out how they do not try to help the social or economic problems that lead to certain social groups having higher amounts of hunger.

Hunger in Brasil has definitely been improved with the implication of the Zero Hunger Program; however, hunger is no where near close to diminished in all areas of the country like this map shows.  A more accurate map would show the variations of hunger levels withing the country. Also, just because food is provided doesn’t always mean it is going to who needs it most, they are really just putting a band aid on the problem and calling it healed instead of fixing the underlying causes.  This map would convince people that Brasil is doing just as well as the United States and Europe which is not the case. Yes there are more severe cases, but a map like this is very biased to highlight only the problems the UN wants to focus on.



World Food Programme (WPF)

The World Food Programme (WPF) is an organization in the United Nation’s larger system that focuses on food aid. On their website they have access to recent updates in food aid progress around the world, and even specific case studies on the status of food aid in some of the most struggling countries around the world. According to their site the ultimate goal of the organization is to “eliminate the need for food aid”.

When it comes to the information on food aid in Brasil, the website seems to show a very one-sided, idealistic version of this problem. Understandably since the organization’s purpose of their website is to collect donations to fund their cause, they seem to skip over where their programs are lacking. The website focuses on Brasil’s achievement in their Zero Hunger strategy by having the oldest and most successful school lunch program. They also describe Brasil’s improvement in local communities through the financial support of sustainable family farming.

Because WPF is a program supported through the United Nations it makes sense that the information presented on the site is very positively focused and neutral, forgetting to mention how race and class play a role in Brasil’s hunger problem. By ignoring the influences of race and class struggles, WPF is able to turn hunger in Brasil into a beautiful success story with key missing components. While Brasil’s positive image may help the organization gain more donations, Brasil still has hunger problems and by withholding that information they are not helping the country or giving a full, accurate account of the current situation.