Live Below the Line, Day 1: ‘You are going to do this’

This week, a few friends and I are banding together to take on Live Below the Line’s challenge to eat and drink for less than $1.50 a day. By taking this action, we hope to get a better understanding of the hardships faced by people living in extreme poverty every day.

Girl from Africa eats her food

The “line,” of course, refers to the poverty line — that invisible barrier that separates the haves from the have-nots. There are 1.4 billion people in the world who live on than less than $1.50 a day, and for those people, living on that amount of money is not a choice.

To be completely honest with you, I was nervous about this challenge for weeks, almost dreading it. I’m a self-proclaimed foodie, and cooking, eating and collecting old cookbooks are my favorite hobbies — so, the idea that I’d have to eat instant ramen and plain white rice for five days straight seemed daunting. But then I felt guilty and snobby for feeling that way, so I said to myself, “you are going to do this.” And so I did.

The challenge is simple: eat and drink for less than $1.50 a day between May 16 and 20. Free or donated food and produce from your garden counts — so you have to factor that into your budget. And absolutely no cheating.

My friends decided that it would be more efficient to pool our money together and buy in bulk, so we headed over to the local supermarket on Saturday to see what we could get for $45. Not much, it turned out. Things that we thought we could get — bananas, powdered milk, fresh vegetables — were out of the question. Take a look at what we purchased:

Live Below the Line Shopping Run
We also were able to purchase five eggs for each person, the most luxurious meal item for the week by far. We ended up spending a total of $43.99, about one dollar under our limit. That means we’re eating and drinking on just $1.47 a day.

total on shopping run
After shopping, we took all our goods to a local coffee joint and started splitting things up using measuring cups and plastic baggies. That certainly got people’s attention. “What are you guys doing?” the people next to us asked. “Some kind of art project?”

Not even close, we said. As we explained the mission of the Live Below the Line challenge with a touch of pride in our voices, we could feel our inner activists coming through — and we were giddy with excitement for the fact that we were really, truly raising awareness for extreme poverty with the world around us.

Check the ONE Blog tomorrow for updates on Day 2.