The debate on hunger in Brazil began in the early 1930s when Dr Josué de Castro, a famous physician and geographer, began his research on the health of workers in Recife, his hometown in the North-East of Brazil. Considering the labour conditions of these workers, Castro found out the sole reason for the particularly high absence and low productivity rates: hunger among the workers.
In 1946 Josué de Castro published his classic book “Geopolitics of Hunger”. The international reputation of this book helped him to be elected chairman of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) during the early 1950s. Josué de Castro participated in the Brazilian government for two decades, playing a central role in the implementation of the School Meals Program, subsidies for workers’ meals paid by employers and many other important programs to combat hunger in Brazil (L’abatte, 1988). Unfortunately, after the military coup in the mid-1960s he went into exile and eventually died in Europe.
After Brazil’s re-democratisation process, the subject of hunger re-emerged. In the mid-1980s the country was devastated by an inflation rate of more than 3000% per annum and poverty and lack of food was affecting everyone. Consequently, a huge campaign led by a sociologist Herbert “Betinho” de Souza was launched in Brazil, mobilising the population to collect and donate food to needy people.