Saturday, 4 May 2013

Live Below The Line 2013

So, as usual, this blog post comes with an introductory apology for my lack of posts. It's been a busy however-long-it's-been but now I do have things to share.

Some of you may be aware of the Enough Food IF Campaign - a campaign backed by over 150 charities to mark 2013 as the beginning of the end of world hunger. It's hard to believe that now, in 2013, world hunger is still a growing problem, with 1.2 billion people living below the poverty line, internationally defined as living on £1 a day or less. I probably spend more than that on my lunch alone. In a modern world full of 'we should be equal' and human rights, why is World Hunger still a thing?

Anyone can sign up and support the IF Campaign. Just google it and read about it. The campaign aims to tackle 4 problems: Aid, Land, Tax and transparency. To read about these, visit the website. Http://

This past week (29th April-3rd May) was the week of the Live Below The Line challenge. This meant living on £1 a day for 5 days to experience what it could possibly be like for someone living in extreme poverty. Of course, it's near impossible to know exactly what it's like. The £1 a day is just for food. We are still able to get the bus to school, drink clean water, come home and watch TV by the radiator; small things that one who lives in extreme poverty cannot do, and that most of us take for granted.

This week I lived on £1 a day for 5 days. For those of you who know me well, you are aware of how major this is. I am the daughter of a chef/waitress. Food has never been a problem for me, despite the current economic problems that have affected most in Britain today. I am a compulsive snacker, known for wolfing down everything and anything out of boredom. Effectively, I eat around 5 mini meals a day instead of the standard 3 square meals a day. This suits me well - I don't sit at the table with my family for dinner. I eat when I please and I fit my work around that. Upon discovering the IF Campaign on Twitter, I realised that this is a really bad thing. Perhaps it's unfair to be hard on myself, seeing as I've grown up to be this way, but in the grand scheme of things I just eat whatever I want and not what I need. I am guilty of greed.

This week I, and a few fellow classmates at college, did the challenge. I personally gave up meat for a week, something that shocked those closest to me. I have also lived without tea and coffee and crisps and brownies. Things that I deem necessary for my survival. I thought that the first day would be the hardest, seeing as I would have just thrown myself into a diet with fewer calories and nutrients etc. my diet mainly consisted of toast, egg and rice, with a baked potato as a treat on the last day. This was all very bland and unappetising, so I was generous with my seasoning to help me get through it all. I drank more water this week than I ever have in my life. I did lots of homework without a mug of black coffee by my side.

For most of the week, I coped really well, which I think surprised everyone, given my food history, but suddenly everything changed on the Friday. I came into school and ate my tiny everyday-value-apple as breakfast part i, as I had done every day. It suddenly wasn't enough. I had to wait two hours for breakfast part ii - 2 pieces of toast with spreadable cheese - and it was unbearable. My stomach ached, and I had to lie down or curl up into a ball to tame the pain. It even got to a point where I was lying down in the corner of my French class trying not to vocalise my pain - this made a very amusing anecdote, however, as my French teacher did not comment on the fact that I suddenly popped up out of nowhere halfway through to join in the lesson. I ate my toast and I thought I would be fine, until I walked up the millions of stairs up to my next lesson and the pain came back, along with a sudden wave of lethargy. I distracted myself with the fine potato I'd be eating at lunch while everyone else commented on how delirious I'd become in the space of a few hours. Lunch time came around and the microwaves in our common room had broken, so we ventured down to the food-tech room to cook our last Below The Line lunch. It didn't quite fill me up, so by the time I got to my physics lesson I was in absolute agony. I don't know why. But, I believe this to be what hunger feels like. I had planned to have a midnight feast to celebrate completing the challenge, but instead I made a roast pork meal for my family, ate my last ever Below The Line meal and went to bed at 6.30. I woke up later at 10.30 to post an early tweet of congratulations and relief, but managed to keep myself up until midnight to mark that the week was officially over. Since finishing the challenge, I've eaten an apple, an small orange and a piece of toast. The aching feeling inside has not yet gone away.

The challenge has taught me a lot. As clich├ęd as its sounds, I definitely appreciate food much more. I took care to cook everything properly and not be wasteful. I learned more about nutrition as people reassured me that it must be challenging because of the lack of x, y and z in my diet. I now appreciate my weekly shop at Tesco a lot more, because my budgeting and rationing was organised right down to the minute I'd be eating my snack apple and how much water I'd need to drink in each lesson to keep me sane.

Although the challenge is over, our fundraising does not end here. I am still looking for sponsors, and at school I will be organising a few small fundraising events such as a Come Dine Below The Line for the 6th Formers and a sweepstake with neat little prizes.

If you are interested in the cause then please consider sponsoring me for my efforts and checking out the IF Campaign and UNICEF websites for more information on how to get involved.

Sponsor me here:
IF Campaign:


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