Living below the line – a challenging week

By DEACON BARRY MELLISH

St Joseph’s Deacon Barry and his wife, Julia, are taking part in this week’s “Living Below the Line” challenge, which involves spending only £1 each day on food for five days. The challenge reconises that 1.2 billion people live on the equivalent of this every day of their lives. Here, he keeps us updated with his progress.

Day 1 – Monday

What’s on the menu for today? Porridge for breakfast, rice and lentils for tea, and lunch will be two slices of “basic” supermarket bread and a very cheap packet of soup. Julia usually makes the soup – it is a good way of using vegetables that are on the point of “going off”. No matter how well you plan meals and shopping there always seems to be something that you have too much off. That makes homemade soup difficult to cost and, for the purposes of this five-day exercise, we decided to use packet.

The important point to remember is that for 1.2 billion people, they have no choice. There are also thousands in this country that are counting every penny. We usually forget how lucky we are.

We have bought most food in bulk – this makes it easier and cheaper. Again, some do not have that luxury. We are also using herbs and spices that we have in the house and making a notional 10p a day charge against the budget.

The thought on herbs and spices is interesting, as, yes, they may only cost pennies per meal to add, but I wonder if people “living below the line” would ever be able to afford them in the first place to be able to stock the cupboards –  like when I grab the olive oil to fry some onions, I realise that so many wouldn’t even be able to afford the oil as that would take weeks to save for.

I suspect that in the countries where most people are living below the line, they are limited by what is available. The poor in this country can see the things that they would like but cannot afford them. What would probably help in the UK would be to provide the less well-off wih a starter kit of herbs and spices and then when one individual one runs out that one is replaced.

Day 2 – Tuesday

Today, the menu is porridge, scrambled eggs on toast for lunch and pasta with a tomato and onion sauce for tea.

Day 3 – Wednesday

Whilst doing this as an exercise is rather fun for many it is the reality of their everyday lives. For me, the risk is that I put in treats that we have in the larder. For many, the larder is bare.

Day 5 – Friday

Yesterday, I was at a conference. The tough part was watching the others eat lovely food while I had a sandwich with a meagre filling on basic bread.

Today is my last day of living below the line. I can look forward to a fry-up for breakfast tomorrow. But for 1.2 billion people, it will be the same food tomorrow as it was yesterday and the the day before. It does make me realise how lucky I am. It has been a worthwhile exercise and has made me think differently about those less fortunate.

Day 6 – End of challenge

Well the five days of living on a £1 per day are over. I must admit that the bacon sarnie for breakfast this morning was really great. If nothing else, the past five days has taught me how lucky I am. I did this as a challenge and to raise awareness of the 1.2 billion people who have to live on the equivalent of £1 per day. For them, the reality is that there will never be a bacon sarnie for breakfast. It has made me feel very humble.

You can sponsor Barry and donate money to a charity that is try to alleviate food poverty by clicking here.

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