CHANHASSEN, MN — This week I decided to participate in the Live Below the Line challenge in order to raise money for global poverty. The challenge required that I only spend $1.50 every day for five days on food.
I did everything I could to prepare myself for these five days. I downloaded all the recipe and planning ideas off of the Live Below the Line Web site, read blogs from participants that did previous challenges, and even started cutting back from coffee in advance so that it would not be as difficult to cut it from my diet. Frankly, nothing I could have done prepared me for the physical and emotional experience I was about to have.
As the week began I was energized, enthused and even excited to begin the challenge. Monday morning I visited the local grocery to buy my week’s worth of sustenance. In total I had $7.50 to spend. I walked around adding in my head the cost of each item and after grabbing half a pound of rice, oats and a carton of eggs had reached $7.25, leaving myself a little wiggle room to add salt to my eggs, butter to my rice and a scoop of peanut butter to my oatmeal.
At first it was kind of like going to the dentist, when they tell you not to eat for an hour after and you automatically are hungry and want to eat. By the second morning, however, I was hungry. By day three I was hungry and irritable. Harder than the physical hunger, was getting over not being able to eat what I wanted when I was hungry. I would meet up with friends and just watch them eat, trying my best to resist asking for a French fry.
If I were to have made daily purchases instead of making my $7.50, I would have only had enough to purchase a granola bar or a bag of carrots. Some bottles of water are beyond my limit. More than once, friends and family have checked in with me asking, “Are you surviving?” Jokingly I caught myself replying, “barely.”
Barely? There are millions of people whose lives are characterized by hunger, not to mention the other countless hardships they endure due to poverty. I was hungry but I also still had a bed to sleep in, a roof over my head, the medicine I need, a car to drive and a steady income. I found myself going to bed earlier and earlier just to make the week go by faster.
For me, there was a finish line and reason for what I was doing. I chose to live on $1.50 per day. Living on $1.50 per day or less is what defines extreme poverty because there are people and entire families that live with this challenge not only regarding food but all aspects of daily life. So far I have raised $840 that will go towards the Global Poverty Project. I have until May 30 to continue raising money.
Today is bittersweet. I feel relieved to have completed the Live Below the Line challenge and raised money, but grieved at the thought of so many living in extreme poverty.
Sources: Live Below The Line, Global Poverty Project