Coca-Cola has joined Zero Hunger offering subsidized meals to the
Brazilian poor for as little as 1 real (33 cents).
The food will be
prepared by the same company that cooks for Coke’s workers.
already serving rice, beans, meat, and salad to as many
as 300 people a day in Porto Alegre, state of Rio
Grande do Sul.
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva got some heavy-weight support for the Zero Hunger program with
announcement that Coca-Cola will expand its community restaurant program, which serves 300 meals a day at R$ 1 (US$ 0.33) each in
a pilot program that is operational in Porto Alegre. The expansion will begin in Belo Horizonte, to be followed by at least
15 more restaurants in other cities where the company has factories. The real cost of meal in a Coca-Cola community
restaurant is R$ 2.28 (US$ 0.76), but the company subsidizes the cost.
The president of Coca-Cola of Brazil, Brian Smith, met with Lula and also announced that the firm will invest R$
550 million (US$ 183 million) in the country next year, an increase of 10 percent over this year’s investments. Smith said he
was optimistic about growth in Brazil and is enthusiastic with the new measures by the government which should bring in
new investments. Smith said he hoped to see an upturn in the second half of this year, after Coca-Cola had a drop of 6
percent in sales during the first half of 2003.
At the moment, Coca-Cola spends R$ 48 million (US$ 16 million) on some 100 different community action
programs in Brazil. The payoff is that Brazil is now Coca-Cola’s third biggest market in the world, behind only the United States
and Mexico. The company has 50 percent of the Brazilian soft-drink market.
Coke will be responsible for building the restaurants, hiring and paying the workers and cooking the food. "Coke
does not see this initiative as a restaurant chain, but as an action of social responsibility," says Mauricio Bacellar, a
spokesperson for the Atlanta-based company.
Reducing Hunger by Half
The United Nations says it believes Brazil will be able to reach Agenda 21 targets, declared the UN representative in
Brazil, Carlos Lopes, after meeting with Brazilian ministers from the social assistance area. Lopes explained that the UN
established eight targets for the 21st century, based on the Rio 92 Conference on Environment and Development and further
elaborated at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in South Africa in 2002.
The targets to be reached by the year 2020 are: reduce hunger and poverty, universalization of elementary education,
gender equality, lower infant mortality rates, increase AIDS combat, bolster environmental sustainability and create
partnerships for development. "If Brazil just continued the policies of the past decade the country would not reach the targets. But
there is now a commitment to new policies by the Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva government to reduce inequalities," said Lopes,
adding that he was sure Brazil could cut hunger and poverty in half.
Petrobras to Help
State-controlled oil company Petrobras will invest R$ 303 million (US$ 101 million) in social projects that will
benefit 4 million Brazilians by 2006. This investment is part of a partnership, signed on September
1st at a ceremony in the Planalto Palace, with the Zero Hunger program. The Petrobras Zero Hunger projects will operate in five areas: education,
professional training for young people and adults, generation of employment and income, protection of the rights of children and
adolescents, and social undertakings and volunteer work.
The retail arm of Petrobras, BR Distribuidora, will launch a faithful customer credit card, intended to encourage
public participation in the Zero Hunger program. When they purchase at BR gas stations, customers will earn points, which
they will be able to exchange for items produced by Zero Hunger social projects or convert into donations to the program.
Another Petrobras Zero Hunger project is Water the Earth, the goal of which, in the initial stage, is to make water
available for use in 50 communities by year’s end. Hundreds of wells in which Petrobras discovered water rather than petroleum
will be placed at the disposal of communities in the semi-arid region over the next four years.
The Move Brazil project is aimed at rural professional education. 1,600 teachers will be trained to provide literacy
instruction to 40 thousand young people and adults by 2006. During the same period, the project will install 23 training centers at
which 6,800 trainees will receive professional instruction to work as gas station attendants, sales representatives, and
lubrication technicians. Another effort at generating jobs and income in rural areas is the Family Farm project, which intends to
serve 10 thousand people over 4 years.
In the cities, the Urban Agriculture project will make it possible to use areas in the vicinity of rights-of-way where
Petrobras companies’ pipelines pass, to plant community gardens and nurseries. 400 gardens are expected to be created by 2006,
serving around 800 thousand people.
Another project that is part of Petrobras Zero Hunger is intended to involve truck drivers in the fight against child
labor and the sexual exploitation of children, by stimulating them to denounce cases of child abuse. According to the
Petrobras press office, all these projects will be developed in an integrated manner throughout the country.
Corn in Zero Hunger Program
The federal government is purchasing corn produced in Paraná to distribute to families enrolled in the Zero Hunger
program. The first to sell their produce are small farmers from the municipality of Bituruna, in the southern region of the state,
where the Conab (National Supply Company) set up a business stand.
Some of the farmers harvested their corn three months ago but were not marketing it, because prices are low. Conab
is paying R$ 3 (US$ 1) more per sack than the market price. Each farmer can sell up to 178 sacks of corn at R$ 14 (US$
4.7) per sack. All of the crops produced by family farmers are on Conab’s shopping list: Corn, rice, beans, manioc meal, and
wheat will be acquired to feed the families enrolled in the Zero Hunger program.
The federal government intends to extend its Zero Hunger program to 1.5 million families by the end of this year.
According to minister of Food Security and Hunger Combat, José Graziano, that target is 50 percent higher than the
original goal of reaching 1 million families.
Graziano points out that with the unification of other government social assistance programs, such as the Food Card,
School Scholarship and Food Voucher programs, the government will reach another 2 million families by the end of December,
bringing the total to 3.5 million in the semi-arid and Amazon regions, plus another 60 of Brazil’s poorest municipalities.
The material for this article was supplied by Agência Brasil (AB), the official press agency of the Brazilian
government. Comments are welcome at email@example.com