Many Venezuelans struggle to put food on the table in crisis

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In this Feb. 27, 2020 photo, Orlando Blanco, 68, waits for food to be served at a religion center in the slum called The Cemetery in Caracas, Venezuela. In the midst of a severe crisis, families in Venezuela struggle to consume enough food daily. A recent study by the UN World Food Program reveals that one in three residents of the South American country has difficulty bringing food to the table and fails to meet their basic nutritional requirements. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

CARACAS – For Yeri Guerra, getting by during hard times in Venezuela means sometimes skipping meals so her two young boys still at home can eat before heading to school.

Other days, when things are even more desperate, she said, none of them eat.

“Sometimes, I don't send them to school because I don't have anything to give them for breakfast,” she said. “I keep them here at home.”

Guerra, 39, isn't alone.

According to a survey recently published by the U.N. World Food Program, one of every three Venezuelans cope with food insecurity, unable to get enough to meet their basic dietary needs.

In an apparent shift for Venezuela, people surveyed said food is now available in a country once riddled by shortages, but it's more difficult to afford because they've lost their jobs as Venezuela's crisis deepens.

The South American nation was once among Latin America's richest nations, sitting atop the world's largest oil reserves. But it has been on a steady downward spiral into social and economic crisis in recent years.

Remote states like Delta Amacuro, Amazonas and Falcon had especially high levels of food insecurity, the study says. In more prosperous regions, one in five people have trouble putting food on the table.