Was it more than $1.50?
Mine sure was, and that was only breakfast.
I started my day with a small container of Greek yogurt, a handful of (admittedly overpriced) granola, and a banana. A relatively modest meal, by American standards, which probably cost somewhere in the vicinity of $3.00. But, if I were one of the 1.4 billion people worldwide who live in extreme poverty (qualified as living on less than $1.50 per day), I would have just blown through two days worth of food in one fell swoop.
Poverty such as that is almost unimaginable to many of us. It’s something that I certainly don’t think about often enough, living in a comfortable, suburban community, sitting in a kitchen with electricity and running water, having a roof over my head. It’s all too easy to take for granted that there will be food in the fridge, dinner on the table and money to pay for all of it. It is an extraordinary privilege to be well-fed: not simply sustained, but nourished with clean, healthy and balanced food.
We should all be so lucky.
To that end, the Live Below the Line campaign has a challenge for you: can you feed yourself for five days, on $1.50 per day?
An initiative of the Global Poverty Project, the organization is trying to raise awareness and funds for the 1.4 billion people (with a global population of just over seven billion, that’s one fifth of the world) who live in extreme poverty. Their mission is to educate people about this worldwide epidemic, and to inspire more active and engaged citizens—how can we appropriately advocate for a cause until we understand it ourselves?
Though no one who has not been through extreme poverty should ever presume to truly understand the experience, the project is an attempt to give us a glimpse at how the other half lives. If we can’t even feed ourselves for that little, how can we stand by while others are forced to live their whole lives on that budget?
It’s shocking. A mere fifty cents per meal.
These days, fifty cents will hardly buy you a gum ball: forget the organic, locally sourced, gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan-friendly, artisan farmer’s market food that fills up so many of our fridges on a regular basis. For example, I work in midtown Manhattan twice a week. Granted, New York is one of the most expensive cities in the world, but the money I spend getting myself lunch—one meal—could feed someone else for two weeks.
Let that one sink in. And if you find that as difficult as I do, go contribute to the cause. The official challenge runs from April 29th to May 3rd in the US (UK and Australia too) and money can be raised for one or more of a dozen worthy charities. But every bit helps! The more we can spread understanding, compassion and activism, the closer we’ll be to eradicating extreme poverty altogether.
Hugh Jackman has already gotten on board, as well as Avengers star Tom Hiddleston, who has not only signed on but taken the challenge himself. See below for their testimonials. Update: Ben Affleck and more have also joined the cause!
For more on global food costs, check out this interesting video: how far does your $5 go?
Caroline Scherer is finding her way in the world. She is a thinker, a dreamer, a writer, and an old soul. She enjoys, but is not very good at yoga, and is feeling guilty about maybe wanting to reevaluate her vegetarianism. She is also an increasingly less recent graduate of Skidmore College, but pretends otherwise. Nowadays, she uses her liberal arts education to work at an independent bookstore and navigate the strange world of post-graduate underemployment. She is an avid swimmer, crossword puzzle enthusiast and dog lover.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise