Today is the official launch of Live Below the Line 2013. As many of you begin to undertake the challange, here are some recent personal blog posts from Milly Hooke, a grassroot volunteer in London who took the challange last week.  Hopefully some of her posts and recipe ideas will encourage you as you embark on this difficult but thought-provoking challange.

Can I really Live Below the Line?

Having attended many grassroots campaigning meetings with Results UK, a charity working to eradicate poverty and suffering, it is now time to embark on their biggest activist challenge of the year. I will be ‘Living Below the Line’, spending just £1 a day for 5 days on my entire food and drink consumption! As a self-confessed ‘foodie’ this will be no easy task.

After discussing how to achieve a nutritious ‘shopping basket’, for under a fiver, with my friends I managed to compile a sufficient shopping list; rice, oats, jam, tea bags, beans, pasta, biscuits, some type of veg (hopefully at a discounted price) and possibly some form of reduced meat!… Bit of an ambitious list but with my list in mind I set off to Sainsburys to raid their ‘Basics’ range. In addition to my shopping list I managed to get some discounted breaded chicken bites and pork pies, definitely not my average choice but with a little bit of luck this meat will provide some source of protein and saving me from totally bloating up on a purely carb diet!

The reason behind my (slightly) crazy decision to embark on this challenge is to raise awareness of the millions of people that face this challenge every day.. But they don’t have to make the choice of how to last a just a week this way this is life for them. And they don’t just have decisions on whether its better to get ginger biscuits or custard creams, they have to choose between food or sending their children to school to gain an education. This is an inequality that should not exist, across the globe enough food is made to feed everyone, yet each night 1 in 8 people go to bed hungry. This is unjust and must be ended, together we can work towards a fairer world where everyone has enough to eat.

Living Below the Line – Day 3

o I’m three days in and I’m starting to feel the effects a little. Pretty sure I have eaten a normal persons carbohydrates intake for a week already and the blandness of meals are making me crave the feast I have planned for Fridays night even more. Although a £5 shopping budget allowed me to buy enough food to fill me up it certainly hasn’t allowed for much variety in my diet. So far I’ve had a pretty routinely meal plan;

–          Breakfast, the most important meal of the day (well maybe not but one that I don’t seem to function without). For the past few days I have had porridge, made up with water and a dollop of jam to make it slightly more appetising.

–          Lunch has so far consisted of plain pasta, topped with chopped tomatoes, and today I even treated myself to some sweetcorn .

–          Dinner has mainly been rice with sweetcorn or kidney beans and a porkpie (certainly not my normal choice). Although tonight I had some breaded chicken bites… which I had been rather sadly looking forward to all day. I had found the chicken bites in the reduced isle and managed to freeze them so I could have a treat a bit later in the week when the challenge had started to get to me. But in reality if I was really living on a pound a day I probably wouldn’t own a freezer and would therefore have to eat up anything that had been brought for cheap because it was going off and wait until I seized my next bargain… which could take any manor of time.

So far I seem to have managed alright, although I know I’m not getting my full nutrients I’m not too far off the recommended daily allowance for women of 2000 calories and I don’t feel too bad on it either. But I am a fairly fit and healthy young adult, the affect on a child or weak adult would have far worse implications. Children are the most actually affected group of society by the affects of undernutrition. Simple measures like promoting breastfeeding, providing nutrient rich foods in the early stages of development and immediate treatment of malnutrition can, if properly implemented, reduce child deaths by 25%. We must pressure our government to work with other governments to meet the Millennium Development Goal of ‘halving the proportion of people who suffer from hunger’ by the 2015 deadline.

Live Below the Line completed!

After my last blog post I received really encouraging feedback from friends. One friend said, “Your pork pie and rice looked so stodgy but it did make me realise how lucky I was about not having to eat like that.. maybe I will think a bit more before I throw food away now and be less wasteful” and others have decided to take on the challenge themselves on the official week next week.

Its messages like that that make these small acts of activism really feel worthwhile. The simple fact that we do produce enough food as a world it is just unfairly distributed within. As a nation we throw away food all too easily and so much doesn’t even reach our shelves before it is disposed of due to regulations and the stigma attached to non-perfect produce.

If you haven’t yet signed up to take part then you still can. You will be helping RESULTS expand our advocacy into working on the huge problem of childhood undernutrition. If you don’t fancy the challenge yourself then why not sponsor one of our amazing participants?