The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Yati and her family have rarely eaten fried food in the last few months. They have not committed themselves to a healthy lifestyle -- they just can't afford cooking oil or meat.
"I never buy tempeh anymore because we can't afford it. All we eat is rice and eggs and if we have vegetables we boil them in plain water," the resident of Cipinang Besar in East Jakarta told The Jakarta Post on Friday.
Yati was one of many housewives who attended a rally to protest against rising food prices organized by the Jakarta Residents Forum (FAKTA) in front of the Presidential Palace in Central Jakarta on Thursday.
Basic ingredients have gone up significantly in price since the start of the year. Soybeans recently experienced a massive price hike, driving some 5,000 tempeh and tofu producers to protest.
The price of eggs has almost doubled, with one kilogram increasing from Rp 7,000 (USD 74 cents) to Rp 12,000. The price of cooking oil has also jumped from Rp 4,000 to Rp 11,000 in the past five years.
Yati, a mother of three, said she found it hard to buy her family's everyday needs.
"I'm just so confused. I don't know what else we can go without to save money," she said, adding that one of her children no longer attended school.
Yati's husband works as a laborer, bringing home around Rp 1 million per month.
In Sunter, North Jakarta, Slamat, who is a squatter and works as a bus driver, said he was especially burdened by the rising cost of cooking oil.
He said he and many other squatters who live in the area often do not have enough money to buy basic ingredients to cook with.
"And now we are finding it much more difficult as cooking oil prices have gone up," he said.
FAKTA head Azas Tigor Nainggolan said the government has not been doing enough to help the city's poor.
"Some of these poor people have to go to unimaginable lengths to survive, such as eating old rice," he said.
"The government should be more concerned about this. Perhaps the government could subsidize shopping or give food away, but they are not doing anything at the moment to help ease the suffering of poor people."
Azas said the rising price of food may have other long term consequences, including a nutrition crisis among Jakarta's children.
"Young generations in Indonesia may become lazy, simply because they do not have access to healthy meals," he said.
He said the government should do something to help poor people or risk losing their vote in the next election.
"The government should stop protecting the interests of rich people. They already have enough to protect themselves. The government should protect those who need protection -- the city's poor," he said. (anw, ewd)