Mexico may appear to be a bountiful country with countless food stands, markets and grocery stores, but that doesn’t negate the fact that one out five people experienced moderate to severe food insecurity in 2016, according to a report by the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy (CONEVAL).
From the 24.6 million malnourished or undernourished people at the time, 21.7 percent were children younger than five years old. The state of Tabasco suffered the most food insecurity with 42.5 percent, followed by Oaxaca with 31.8 percent.
These are violations of the Mexican Constitution, according COVEVAL. Under Article 4: “Every person has the right to nutritious, sufficient and quality food. The state guarantees it.” Article 27 also states that “Integral and sustainable rural development will also have among its purposes that the State guarantees sufficient and timely supply of basic foods that the law establishes.”
As specified in the study, families living below the breadline spend more than half of their annual income on basic food items such corn tortillas, eggs, oils, vegetables, legumes and sugar. Conversely, wealthier families spend a quarter of their income on foods that also include meats, milk, fruit, soft drinks, alcoholic beverages and more. As a consequence, economically-challenged families are unable to invest in health care, education and other important necessities.
Such disparities result from the fall in living standards and heightened food costs between 2005 and 2014, according to the report. Families are forced to compromise one basic need for another.
Rural areas are especially challenged since only 4.5 percent of localities with less than 5,000 inhabitants have a full supply of essential foods. Over a third of the population living in rural Mexico is forced to travel to urban areas to buy certain items.