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Venezuelan Crisis Leaves Families with Empty Fridges

Venezuelans barely have enough food to put on their tables and struggle to even complete three meals a day because of soaring inflation.

Venezuela's soaring prices and chronic shortages have left many struggling to put meals on their tables. Recession and a dysfunctional state-run economy are forcing many in the South American OPEC country of 30 million to reduce consumption and eat less-balanced meals.

The combination of these two have left many scrambling to find ways to put regular food on their tables and maintain a balanced diet.

CARLOS GARCIA RAWLINS / Reuters

Amid a severe recession and dysfunctional state-run economy, poorer families say they are sometimes skipping meals and relying more on starch foods.

Lines snake around state supermarkets from before dawn. "You have to get into these never ending lines - all day, five in the morning until three in the afternoon - to see if you get a couple of little bags of flour or some butter," said taxi driver Jhonny Mendez, 58. "It makes a person want to cry."

Above: A combination photo shows Jhonny Mendez, second left, with, from left to right, Yoelver Barreto, Yorver Barreto, Leida Bolivar and Yoalvier Barreto (top) and the food they have at home in Caracas on April 14.

CARLOS GARCIA RAWLINS / Reuters

The study of nearly 1,500 families found rising percentages of carbohydrates in diets, and found that 12 percent of those interviewed do not eat three meals a day.

Above: A combination photo shows Mirella Rivero and her son Jose Rivero and the food they have at home in Caracas on April 15. "I breakfast on either an arepa or a tamale, to eat, at least two times a day" Rivero said.

CARLOS GARCIA RAWLINS / Reuters

Natalia Guerra, 45, lives in a small home in Petare with eight relatives, only one of whom has a significant salary. She remembers buying milk for her own kids but now cannot find any for her grandchildren. "We're a big family, and it's constantly getting harder for us to eat" Mendez said.

Above: A combination photo shows Ricardo Mendez, second left, with relatives, from left to right, Raymari Guerra, Natalia Guerra, Ricardo Mendez, Dayana Mendez, Antonela Mendez, Yolimar Vetancourt and Liz Torres, and the food they have at home in Caracas on April 23.

CARLOS GARCIA RAWLINS / Reuters

Government supporters have long pointed proudly to the improvement in eating under late socialist leader Hugo Chavez, who used oil income to subsidize food for the poor during his 14-year rule and won United Nations plaudits for it.

But President Nicolas Maduro, Chavez's successor, has faced a collapse in the price of oil, which provides almost all foreign income. He further has blamed an opposition-led "economic war," though critics deride that as an excuse. Either way, Venezuelans are tired and cross.

Above: A combination photo shows Duglas Sanchez posing for a picture (top) and the food that he has at home in Caracas. "We are eating in a bad way, we can not eat a balanced way. If we had lunch, not dinner and if we had dinner, not breakfast," Sanchez said.

CARLOS GARCIA RAWLINS / Reuters

According to one recent study, 87 percent of Venezuelans say their income is now insufficient to purchase their food needs.

Above: A combination photo shows Yunni Perez, right, next to her relatives from left to right, Carlos Acosta, Adrian Gonzalez, Luis Oliveros, Luis Oliveros and Hector Acosta and the food they have at their home.

CARLOS GARCIA RAWLINS / Reuters

A combination photo shows Victoria Mata, second right, next to her relatives, from left to right, Naibeth Pereira, Sebastian, Delis Pereira, Denis Pereira and Wenderly and the food they have in their home in Caracas.

CARLOS GARCIA RAWLINS / Reuters

A minimum wage is now only around 20 percent of the cost of feeding a family of five, according to one monitoring group.

Above: A combination photo shows Lender Perez, second right, his wife Isamar Ramirez, and their children Lismar and Lucia, posing for a picture and the food they have at their home. "We have about 15 days eating bread with cheese or arepa with cheese. We are eating worse than before, because we can't find the foods and those we can find we can't afford," Perez said.

CARLOS GARCIA RAWLINS / Reuters

A combination photo shows Rosa Elaisa Landaez, back, next to her relatives, from left to right, Albert Perez, Abel Perez and Yeiderlin Gomez and the food they have at their home.

"We are eating badly. For example, if we have corn flour, we eat arepas all day. If you have the money you can't find the foods and if you find you them you do not have enough money," Landaez said.

CARLOS GARCIA RAWLINS / Reuters
A combination photo shows the contents of peoples fridges in Caracas on April 2016. CARLOS GARCIA RAWLINS / Reuters