In the slums of Le Prou, chicken is no longer on the menu as soup kitchens struggle against inflation.

“The price increase is enormous,” said Jenifer Mondalgo, president of the soup kitchen for the poor in the Pamplona Alta slum. “The chicken we bought (…) is now inaccessible. For us canteens, the chicken has ceased to exist.”

Mondalgo said they resorted to begging at the market to obtain free bones, skins or other remains so they could serve at least some animal protein.

For years, soup kitchens offered lunch for 1 sole (27 cents), but now community leaders have been forced to charge 1.5 sole.

While much of the world faces high inflation triggered by the Ukrainian crisis, the stakes are higher in the south, where the poor have always sought a life and could go hungry at any moment.

The war has also caused a global fertilizer shortage, which has a direct impact on the cost of food.

Pamplona Alta, residents looked for food in the garbage cans. The slums of Lima have long been the first stop for Peruvians leaving the Andes to head to the city in search of better opportunities.

Inflation in Peru is at its highest level in a quarter of a century, with rising prices disproportionately affecting food. The price spike has already sparked nationwide protests that have left the government looking for ways to cut costs.

Peruvian President Pedro Castillo has promised to lower prices by waiving the sales tax on basic foodstuffs, a bill that Congress passed late Tuesday after a lengthy debate over essential foods.

Peru also raised the minimum wage by 10%, to 1,025 soles, and offered coupons to subsidize cooking gas for the most vulnerable.

“Things like vegetables and potatoes were cheap. Now they’re super expensive,” said Elena Rodriguez, a resident of Pamplona Alta. “I do not know what to do”.

On Monday, a soup kitchen in Pamplona Alta served rice with lentils, as well as an increasingly rare dish: chicken soup, thanks to a donation of bones at the market earlier in the day.

Vegetable oil has risen by 50% in the past year, according to Peru’s National Statistics Agency. This forced poor Peruvians to find ways to make ends meet, such as recovering leftover pork fat for use in other dishes.

“If soup kitchens ceased to exist, our life would be terrible,” said Maria Sanchez, who spends nearly 200 soles a month in the local canteen to feed her family of six.

“We wouldn’t know what to buy because everything is so expensive on the market.”

($ 1 = 3,7081 soles)