When he was elected to the presidency in 2002, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said that he would make sure that by the end of his tenure, each Brazilian would be able to eat three meals every day. At the time, studies showed that nearly 28 percent of the Brazilian population lived below the poverty line – meaning that over one-quarter of Brazilians lived on less than $1.90 per day.
His first initiative was called Fome Zero (Zero Hunger), coordinated by the agronomist and scholar José Graziano da Silva – the incumbent Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization. It was initially conceived as a refund program – the government would publish a list of food products that lower-income Brazilians could purchase, and then be refunded for. Food distribution centers would be created, as well as restaurants at affordable prices.