Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jan 15, 2020 / 04:51 pm (CNA).- Amid a continuing economic crisis in Argentina, the Catholic relief agency Caritas is working to provide food for thousands of families struggling to access adequate nutrition.

Bishop Carlos Tissera, president of Caritas Argentina, said the agency hopes to bring hope amid the suffering experienced by so many people in the country.

“Our model is Christ who came to serve with simplicity and humility,” he said.

For the past two years, Argentina has faced a deep recession, with inflation rates topping 53% last year. A recent report from the Argentina Observatory of Social Debt at the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina found the rate of poverty at decade-high levels, with 40% of the population below the poverty line in the last trimester of 2019.

Last year, the Argentine Bishops' Commission for Social Ministry warned that the situation had reached a crisis level.

“In face of the severe increase in destitution, poverty, unemployment and the indiscriminate increase in the price of the basic food groups, we find ourselves in an emergency food and nutrition situation which essentially affects the most vulnerable, especially children,” the commission said.

Caritas Argentina has worked to alleviate the difficult conditions facing many families in the country. Between May and December 2019, the agency collected about $27,000, which was allocated to care for 755 children and 2,358 families at soup kitchens and other facilities in eight different dioceses.

From Sept. 27-Oct. 18 last year, Caritas distributed 810 tons of food, valued at $128.8 million and provided by the Ministry of Health and Social Development.

“The logistical deployment which this aid work requires stretched us to the max,” said Sofia Terek, the coordinator of Caritas' Immediate Aid and Emergencies Department. She added that “despite our volunteers' efforts, we still see a high percentage of people in poverty.”

“We think this is due to the fact that every day there are more people needing basic nutrition: the price hikes and the lack of work is making access harder for the growing vulnerable population,” she said.