I have just been talking with my colleague Tom about the content of this blog. We were discussing the tone that so many Live Below the Line blogs take and we felt that they followed something of a formula: a description of the challenge; trepidation at the thought of five days without enough food; first day blues; caffeine withdrawal; mid-week slump; frustration at a lack of food options; end of week morale boost; reflection on the challenge; comments on how the challenge has changed the participants life.

I have just been talking with my colleague Tom about the content of this blog. We were discussing the tone that so many Live Below the Line blogs take and we felt that they followed something of a formula: a description of the challenge; trepidation at the thought of five days without enough food; first day blues; caffeine withdrawal; mid-week slump; frustration at a lack of food options; end of week morale boost; reflection on the challenge and comments on how the challenge has changed the participants life.

Potato Curry and Chappati
Potato Curry and Chappati

A formula indeed; one that Tom and I have both followed on blogs about the challenge. And there’s nothing wrong with a blog like that; but this is the fifth time I have done that challenge, and well, I’m getting pretty good at it. I don’t have the same feelings of tiredness, hunger and grumpiness……all in I’m just not finding it difficult. I am craving caffeine in the mornings but I’m living with that…..I mean humans evolved without drinking a flat white every day; anyway I have around 72 ‘tea’ bags that I bought from Sainsbury’s. It’s cheap but it does the job.

As a result, I have had a little bit more time to think clearly about the challenge and the campaign more broadly, and so I think I’ll share my thoughts on those.

As the total raised through Live Below the Line for the year pushes past the £650,000 mark and thousands of people converge around the IF campaign and its hunger and food related asks, I wonder, did the GPP have the foresight to know that this was an issue that’s time had come? Do they own a crystal ball into which they gaze of an evening?

To answer that question, I think, no, the GPP don’t have the power to see the future. I do however think that they have captured a moment by making hunger and food the central theme of their campaign. Leaving aside the catchiness of the campaign and the way it has started to permeate the public’s imagination, the issue at its heart, hunger and poverty are so central to everything we do that it seems inconceivable that while they have been at the core of everything we do, they have also somehow managed to slip off our radar. Allow me to elaborate.

Hunger was the issue which kick started the western rush to aid the Global South in response to the famines that swept Sub Saharan Africa in the 70’s and 80’s; and whilst they have long been seen as key indicators of progress and the focus of some campaigning, hunger and undernutrition have gradually slipped down the international agenda. In 2012 less than 0.3% of global aid assistance went directly on nutrition; as a result the number of undernourished people in developing countries has actually risen in absolute terms, climbing from 824 million in 1990 to 925 million in 2010. This despite the fact that ‘we have the means; we have the capacity to eliminate hunger from the face of the Earth in our lifetimes. We only need the will’ JFK, 1963

It was this fact that inspired Sam Daley-Harris to go on and found RESULTS in the USA in the USA1970s. This fact: we have the means, resources, infrastructure and understanding to eliminate hunger. It is up to us to generate the will to make it happen.

And that’s what we have to do and that, I think, is the strength of Live Below the Line and the IF Campaign….they represent that push, that clamouring of spirit that is needed to generate the will to end hunger. RESULTS believes in that vision and is firm in stating that we all posses the agency to call for change.

Whether David Cameron, Justine Greening and the rest hear that call is one thing, but to push them to exercise that will………..well, that’s something we can –and must- all do.

Now here is an extract from a more ‘traditional’ Live Below the Line blog:

My shopping list:

1kg potatoes- 50p

Carrots 750g- 24p

5 X bananas- 64p

Three large onions- 40p

Can of spaghetti- 16p

350g Red lentils -50p

750g flour- 22p

4X canned tomatoes- £1.24

1X can of kidney beans- 21p

8X value sausages – 56p

Value tea bags- 12p

Assorted spices- 11p

TOTAL £4.90

Meals

Breakfast: banana every day

Lunch: Sausages and potatoes/potato curry

Dinner: Potato curry/Dhaal/chappatis

photo
Potato curry and chappati

Not much variety but the food is tasty, contains protein and has some spices. I love that filthy tea. As a big fan of curry and dhall I relish getting to eat lots of those. From Monday-Wednesday I ate banana for brekkie and then had either curry or sausages for lunch. On Weds I added my can of spaghetti to the sausages and made a meal I can only describe as delicious.

Tonight I’ll eat some more curry and cook the dhal which includes the kidney beans. Tomorrow and Saturday are banana for breakfast then dhal/curry for lunch and dinner. Two days of delicious Indian food!