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Living Below the Line: Day 1

Today's the day I start living below the line for the rest of this week.

What's Live Below the Line?

I begin my journey of spreading awareness of worldwide hunger by vowing to live on $1.50 a day for meals. To do this required a lot of planning, visiting a grocery store I rarely go to (Aldi) and plucking things from the garden though not a lot has sprung up already. Today's meals will include ramen from Aldi's that I bought for $1.69 for 12, chicken broth, and water to drink. Naturally, I will be soooo over ramen after this week.

To prepare for this mentally, I've been watching videos on the Live Below the Line YouTube channel to see how others are going about it. I watched this video of Sister Sparrow (the band) (though, if I were more awesome than I am then I would have named one of my children "Sister Sparrow") as they prepared to Live Below the Line with me next week. In fact, there are a couple other folks joining me as well.

Dresden wrote about it already on her blog for Babble

Jessica at Found the Marbles has some factual information about Live Below the Line.

Also joining me are my friends Heather, Laurie and Morra as well as a few celebrities (Ben Affleck, Sophia Bush) and a politician (Hunter Biden). These people all wear many hats.

The questions I have about eating have helped me think through this carefully, but I've gotten a lot of questions from friends so I put together a FAQ.

What do you mean by "extreme poverty"?

The World Bank defines that to be in financial terms that are easy to understand. In the poorest countries of the world, people are living off of $1.50 a day. That's less than the coffee I drink every morning. In terms of how many people are actually living that way, you'll have to wrap your brain around this: 1.4 billion. 

How does Live Below the Line work?

Basically, I signed up with a team of people and we chose our charity, World Food Program USA. If you know me, you know that I work in education and get to see what our children eat daily. Most of the time, I'm bothered by the choices we serve American children, but I also know that they have things like fruits and vegetables available to them in a way that poorer children don't. Friends have donated directly to our page that we set up and, for the duration of this week, I'm eating on $1.50 a day and have spent only $7.50 for the entire week.

Where does the money go that you raise, Kelly?

Good question (which I've gotten several times already). It's going to go directly to the World Food Program USA (@wfpusa on Twitter) and for every $250 we raise that will provide 1,000 school meals.

Where do I come in?

I'm glad you asked! First, you can support me by just encouraging me. Leave me a note or comment here to help me get through the day. That will mean a lot to me because I thrive on things like that. Or, give me food advice. What suggestions do you have for me? How can I really do this? What food choices would you go with if you had to live on $1.50 per day?

If you'd like to donate, please visit our team page or my personal one.

Next, spread the word! You can use your voice to let your friends know what's happening this week. 

Come back and visit. My goal is to post often so you can watch my progress.

« Living Below the Line: Day 1 Recap | Main | Living Below the Line: Richard »

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Reader Comments (14)

I believe in you, Kel! In this, as in so many things you do, you are an inspiration. Thank you for using your superpowers to bring attention to the things that truly matter. ♥

April 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterClaire M. Jackson

You can do it but please eat some beans or lentils instead of all that ramen....the sodium level in ramen is way unhealthy.

April 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterFlybigd

Awesome Kelly!! You have my prayers! And if you don't pray - I'm sending mojo and juju!

April 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDenise Barreto

Hero. Respect. Admiration. Inspiration. Love.

April 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohann

While I appreciate the effort that you and your group are doing, to make it real a week isn't enough. To really work the experiment you have to experience poverty for at least 3-6 months. You need to try to pay your utilities, cut off your cable, stay out of stores and buy nothing, even in thrift shops. Get rid of your electronics and use the library computers. You want read or watch a movie? Get familiar with your library. Take your car and park it far away from where you live. Don't touch it for the length of the experiment. Use busses and your feet. If you need to go somewhere, ask a friend for a ride.

As for food, find your Panera pay as you go bakery for bread and baked goods. For fruits and veggies go behind your Whole Foods and check their dumpster. They get rid of TONS of food. Find your local food pantry on the Project Bread web site and go. They will give you cereal, pasta, rice, canned goods, eggs, whole chicken, and other stuff like shampoo, toothpaste, etc. Go to your town social worker and ask her if there are any other food sources like a fresh food delivery.

I have lived like this a lot. Currently I get Meals on Wheels 5xweek. It is one small lunch or dinner. I make food from the food pantry all the time. I grocery shop every other month. I buy no drinks, no frozen meals, no prepared meal kits. If it isn't fresh food (and frozen veggies) I wom't eat it. I am hungry all the time. hungry, tired and pissed off.

April 29, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermarjorie

Like Flybigd says, the first day of your experiment points out what one of the problems is for people who live "below the line" on a daily basis - the foods they can afford are the most unhealthy/least nutritious. It's just insane that in our society healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, and beans and lentils and rice et al. are the more expensive choices, than processed, high-fat, high-carb, and highly-salted foods.

April 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGurukarm

YOU are amazing! And so inspiring, my friend. Honestly, I am so inspired by you doing this challenge to raise money and awareness for such an important issues. Sending you big hugs and selfishly gaining strength from you. much love. xoxo

April 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJeannine

I empathize with what Marjorie said above, though I applaud what we are trying to do to raise awareness and funds to help in our own way. Shopping for this week alone was an eye-opener and if I weren't trying to live below the line, I would not have seen it at all.

Oh Marjorie - I SO hear you!
One of the weird issues that I am dealing with as I begin this challenge today is a bit of PTSD. It was not that long ago that my family was homeless. I have known hunger. And yet? I forgot. I slid so easily into my privileged new life - one where I am still living paycheck to paycheck and am one crisis away from being homeless again. I am doing this challenge as a reminder to myself and also because when we gather together our voices really can help. Kelly was in the room when I stood up in front of strangers and sobbed that my goal, my immediate goal in life, was to earn enough so that I no longer qualified for food stamps. A few days in poverty is NOTHING like a life on it, but if it gets more funding for programs or more people standing up and willing to help I am ALL in.

April 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDresden

I put an electronic post-it note on my monitor that says, "Think about Kelly every day this week!" so I will keep you in my thoughts and send you support!

April 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLizP

For something like this, the short scope is part of what gets the maximum number of people to participate. And you can't really "sample" the poverty of, say, housing, utilities, clothing, etc. by making a simple temporary change. But everyone has to eat, and everyone has ideas about what food should cost--that's something we can challenge. For me, the WORST part of Food, Inc. (the documentary) is the scene with the family in the grocery store. They're buying garbage, because it's cheap and will fill their kids' bellies. The youngest girl sees pears--PEARS--and starts bouncing on the balls of her feet just like Bella does about fresh fruit and certain veggies, begging to have some. The older sister says, "Wait. It's 98 cents a pound, weigh one first." The little girl does, and older sis says, "Put it back. You can only get two or three for 98 cents." I cried for that little girl who JUST WANTED A DAMN PEAR. The food system in this country is broken, and subsidies and lobbies are why. There is a reason that wheat, sugar, corn, and soy are the cheapest, most abundant foods in this country, and they are CRAP. I would love to make lawmakers live on this junk for 6 months and get fat and sick, then see if that changes their tune.

April 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBelinda

Goodness but I have a lot of smart, passionate, empathetic friends. Thank you all for helping to highlight some real issues about food and poverty and the JOY of eating a pear, Belinda!

Honestly, I've lived that way for more than the 3-6 months, Marjorie. It was a struggle and one that I forgot about as quickly as I could just like Dresden mentions. You become very attuned to how to navigate the day moment by moment when your stomach is growling.

Thanks for all the encouragement. This helps me get through.

April 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMocha

What a worthy issue to bring attention to! I know thousands of people have to live like this every day without a second thought. The fact that the rest of us have to really put our thinking caps on to swing it on $1.50 a day makes you realize where our priorities are. You can't even buy a bottle of nail polish for that. I know if anyone can do this, it's you. If I had to do this, I'd probably use my allotment of money for half the week at once and make a huge casserole that I'd eat on every day. I love pasta and rice and due to my thrifty nature, I buy it when it's on sale for 50 cents a bag. Your blog is always thought provoking and makes anyone who reads it more socially conscious.

April 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChrisor

Kelly this is awesome--I may have to try this myself! Thank you for helping to get this important message out.

April 29, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCameron

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