Live Below the Line Challenge

Here and there, around Twitter and elsewhere in cyberspace, I’d been hearing about the Below The Line challenge, which involves (if you live in the US) consuming only $1.50 worth of food for a (5-day) week, to get the tiniest of tiny glimpses of experience of life below the extreme poverty line.

Sometimes I quite like a challenge.

So I thought, “Well heck, I want to see if I can do this.”

But then I started to wonder what the point was. Yes, it’s to “raise awareness” of poverty, but that phrase always annoys me because it seems to make a lot of people think they can raise awareness without actually contributing anything.

Then I found out that, in the challenge, you are also supposed to be raising money with one of the partner organizations.


So I signed up at the Live Below The Line US site and, after a little more research, chose Opportunity International as my charity partner of choice (meaning they will be receiving whatever funds I raise during the Challenge). I chose it mainly because it’s a Christian-based organization and it works to support entrepreneurs in impoverished areas.

And if there are two things I love, it’s Jesus and entrepreneurship.

If you are interested in donating and supporting me through this…very interesting endeavor, you can go to my individual page and donate via PayPal or credit card.

I was telling Kara about this, and she said “Are you going to blog about this?” and I was immediately ashamed that I didn’t think of it first. But I will.

The Challenge itself runs April 29 – May 3, when I will consume no more than $7.50 worth of food. Already it’s been difficult, and all I did today was sign up and make a possible grocery list.

I made a list of cheap, versatile foods, with some help from recipes suggested by the Below the Line site: Oatmeal, olive oil, butter, honey, salt, potatoes, onion, garlic, eggs, milk, frozen vegetables, bananas, dried chickpeas, and tomatoes (canned, most likely). After scouring WalMart and Aldi (the cheapest options around here that I know of), unfortunately my total came to almost $15. So I had to scale back.

I ended up with a list that included chickpeas, tomatoes, bananas, onions, potatoes, eggs, salt, margarine, and garlic. Two of the recommended recipes I can make from that, and they should stretch to more than 2 meals each.

(I will be incredibly sick of eggs by the time this is over.)

I had quite a few thoughts going through my head when I was running around the stores looking at prices and figuring out how my budget could stretch.

Some of it was, “I can’t believe what you can’t get for 7.50 at WalMart.”

It makes even more sense to me now when people suggest that at least part of the association of obesity and poverty (at least in the US) may be connected to the expense of healthy foods, and the time and effort needed to cook them. Because I have heard that before, but I would always think, “Pfft, I’m sure they exaggerate. Look, they sell bags of kale at WalMart. What more do you want?”

Except that bag of kale wouldn’t fit into the $1.50/day budget.

And when I saw crates of ramen noodles and realized I could feed myself for a week on those, I felt even more aware of how costly it is to eat remotely healthfully.

So when I left the store, I was already thinking, “I can’t believe how lucky I am.”

Stay tuned for more updates about this…eventually.

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