Yes Magazine writes about The City that Ended Hunger :: Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Belo, a city of 2.5 million people, once had 11 percent of its population living in absolute poverty, and almost 20 percent of its children going hungry. Then in 1993, a newly elected administration declared food a right of citizenship. The officials said, in effect: If you are too poor to buy food in the market, you are no less a citizen. I am still accountable to you.
The new mayor, Patrus Ananias, now leader of the federal anti-hunger effort, began by creating a city agency, which included assembling a 20-member council of citizen, labor, business, and church representatives to advise in the design and implementation of a new food system. The city already involved regular citizens directly in allocating municipal resources, the "participatory budgeting" that started in the 1970s and has since spread across Brazil.
During the first six years of Belo's food-as-a-right policy, perhaps in response to the new emphasis on food security, the number of citizens engaging in the city's participatory budgeting process doubled to more than 31,000.
The city of Belo Horizonte puts "Direct From the Country" farmer produce stands throughout busy downtown areas. The city agency developed dozens of innovations to assure everyone the right to food, especially by weaving together the interests of farmers and consumers. It offered local family farmers dozens of choice spots of public space on which to sell to urban consumers, essentially redistributing retailer mark-ups on produce which often reached 100 percent to consumers and the farmers. Farmers' profits grew, since there was no wholesaler taking a cut. And poor people got access to fresh, healthy food.
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