Empty refrigerators and malnourished children, the odyssey of buying food in the middle of the crisis in Venezuela

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Although the supermarkets are full of products, the salaries are not enough for a healthy diet. A lot of flour and little meat and vegetables.

Luznaily Sulbarán opens her refrigerator and just finds a small piece of cheese to accompany the traditional arepas that she will have for breakfast with her two daughters. It is cold this morning in Los Teques, the capital of the state of Miranda, near Caracas, in Venezuela.

Your pantry is empty. The refrigerator also runs out of anything once the dairy for breakfast is consumed.

“I would love (to eat) what we were used to, for (my daughters) to eat cereals with fruits, and at noon their meat with rice, their bananas and their glass of juice,” he told the EFE agency.

But every morning when she prepares the food, the 30-year-old trader’s wishes collide with reality.

Its empty pantry contrasts with the general supply exhibited by hundreds of supermarkets and markets throughout the country.

And it is that, now, the problem for Venezuelans to acquire food is not scarcity or shortages in stores, as happened a few years ago, but inflation and high product costs, if you look at their average salaries of just a handful of dollars per month.

Sulbarán has lived since 2013 in a building erected by the Gran Misión Vivienda social plan, which according to the Venezuelan government has delivered almost three million homes throughout the country.

When he received the apartment, he felt that life was improving. She had lived in a shelter for more than two years after an avalanche collapsed her house and often slept on the ground so as not to disturb her daughters’ rest.

But he never lacked food like now. Today, his main concern is that the food “yields”.

Thus, their diet is based on carbohydrates such as flour, rice and spaghetti and, from time to time, red meat.

“Vegetables are not very common for us to consume. That is when we buy meat, which we bind to make it yield, and no fruit, we do not consume milk either, it is very expensive,” she said resigned. “If I buy the milk, I don’t buy the rest,” he explains.

A few meters from the department of Sulbarán, her neighbor Katiusca Villasmil does everything possible so that the four members of her family, including her two-year-old daughter, eat a balanced diet.

But when it comes to distributing the food, the baby always goes first and receives the best parts.

“She consumes the milk, I do not, my girl drinks whole milk but I do not consume it because if I consume it, it runs out faster and I could not buy it,” this 39-year-old teacher told EFE.

The same happens with fruits, vegetables, cereals, eggs: priority for the little one and, if there is anything left over, the adults eat.

Due to the pandemic, Villasmil teleworked as a teacher and spends most of her time at home, where she acts as a personal tutor for 3 children in her community.

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