Tehran, Iran (February 4, 2014)- Today is the third consecutive day that government–run distribution centers are giving free food parcels to low income Iranian families. Everyone who makes less than 5 million rials per month, the equivalent of about $200, is entitled to one food basket. But many farmers, villagers, and millions of uninsured laborers are deprived from these handout. This is a new initiative by Rouhani’s government aiming to substitute Ahmadinejad-era cash handouts with essential food items. Many of the items are imported from India (rice) and Turkey (chicken). Apparently, these items are bartered goods the regime has received for the sale of its oil. It is winter in Iran and crowds line up in the cold for the free baskets. Each package includes two frozen chickens, rice, vegetable oil, and two packs of processed cheese. Few incidents of altercations, unrest, and even sudden death have been reported. Free food baskets are distributed by the government-run department stores Shahrvand (Citizen) and Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps barracks.
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