Deciding body (English)
Deciding body (Original)
Type of body
Type of Court (material scope)
Type of jurisdiction
Type of Court (territorial scope)
Outcome of the decision
The Attorney General and the Prosecutor’s Office of the State of São Paulo filed a public civil action, “ação civil pública” requesting the restoration of the “Bom Prato” program, which offers free meals to people without a house.
The Plaintiffs alleged that the service was interrupted on September 20, 2020, due to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and that, by the injunction of October 22, 2020, another judge had already ordered that the service be resumed. The Court ruled that the action was admissible, following the right to food, and ordered the State to continue providing the "Bom Prato" service free of charge to homeless people.
Facts of the case
The Attorney General and the Prosecutor's Office of the State of São Paulo filed a public civil action, "ação civil pública", against the Public Treasury of the State of São Paulo, seeking the re-establishment of the free and integral supply of all meals by the "Bom Prato" program to homeless people, in all the restaurant units and municipalities that had adhered to this system. The Plaintiffs allege that the interruption or restriction of the social benefit by the Public Treasury, as of September 30, 2020, violated the guarantees of the right to primary conditions of life, adequate food, and health, due to the evident difficulty of the beneficiaries in obtaining sufficient funds, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The claim consisted in ordering the State of São Paulo to immediately reestablish the program for homeless people and the maintenance of all meals.
Type of measure challenged
Measures, actions, remedies claimed
Individual / collective enforcement
Nature of the parties
Type of procedure
Reasoning of the deciding body
First, the Court highlighted the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on economic and social activities, affecting in a relevant way the homeless population, who obtain their income from informal services and donations from individuals. It also pointed out that this population suffers from hunger, which causes them to seek free food services maintained by the State of São Paulo.
Secondly, The Court analyzed the right to food and its connection with the right to life and health. He emphasized the duty of the State to guarantee these rights fully. Likewise, any restriction to these rights constitutes a social step backwards.
Thirdly, concerning the "Bom Prato" food supply program, he stressed the need to continue with the program for the effective promotion of fundamental rights, even more so during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Conclusions of the deciding body
The Court ruled that the action was admissible, ordering the State Treasury of the State of São Paulo to continue providing the program's services during COVID-19's state of calamity. The Court highlighted that Article 6 of the Federal Constitution recognizes the fundamental right to food as intrinsically linked to the right to life, health, and dignity. Hence, the Court found that the “Bom Prato” service or program had to resume for free in order to provide people currently in a situation of poverty and distress, food and to safeguard their inalienable rights.
Fundamental Right(s) involved
- Right to health (inc. right to vaccination, right to access to reproductive health)
- Right to food; Right to primary conditions of life
Fundamental Right(s) instruments (constitutional provisions, international conventions and treaties)
- Right to health, Art. 6, Brazilian Federal Constitution
- Right to food, Art. 6, Brazilian Federal Constitution
- Right to primary conditions of life, judicial interpretation and Art. 6, Brazilian Federal Constitution
Rights and freedoms specifically identified as (possibly) conflicting with the right to health
On "type of measure challenged": local government measure (São Paulo, Brazil). The free and integral supply of all meals by the public assistance program, "Bom Prato", for homeless people in all the Restaurant Units and Municipalities that had adhered to this system. The program was created through Decree No. 45547/2000.
On "type of procedure": "Ação Civil pública" is an action to declare liability for damage caused to the environment, consumers, property, and rights with value (Act. 7.347/1985, Art. 13.105/2015 art. 300).