• Hot chocolate, hamburgers and hunger

    Posted by Zoe

    16 May, 2011

    Two dollars. What can you buy to eat or drink for $2? A lollipop? Maybe a small packet of chips? It might be easier to think of all the things you CAN'T get for $2 - a coffee, sandwich, muffin or meat pie! Imagine if $2 was all you had to spend on food for the whole day. This is the reality for the 1.4 billion living in extreme poverty in the world today.

    So this week, from Monday to Friday I'll be joining with thousands of other Australians in the challenge to eat on $2 a day as part of the 'Live Below the Line' campaign.

    Planning what to eat this week has been a challenge. I took $10 to the shops and came back with 3 green apples, 2 mandarins, 2 lemons, 1 sweet potato, 1kg jasmine rice, 1kg frozen mixed veggies, 872g canned peaches and 60 cents change!

    My experience of 'living below the line' last year was one of the most valuable things I've done. I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to make myself uncomfortable and learn some valuable lessons along the way. At the beginning of the week I made a pot of Dahl and rice and divided it up for the week. Unfortunately I can't bring myself to eat Dahl again yet, but I'm working on it! Before I started last year, all I could think about was being hungry and all the things I would be missing out on, but as I got further into the week, I realised that eating on only $2 a day is about a lot more than just being hungry. Here are some of the things I learnt as I reflected on the experience last year...

    1. I take for granted the privilege of 'looking forward to meals'. Billions do not have this luxury.

2. Food fosters relationship. We connect with people by 'having lunch' or 'grabbing a coffee'. This is a huge contrast to those who struggle to get two meals a day.

3. We waste a terrible amount of food. Just because we have more, doesn't mean we can waste more! It is our responsibility to be more effective stewards of the resources available to us. 

    4. After a while you get past being hungry even though you seriously need food. This shouldn't be something that ANYONE should have to get used to.

5. We are spoiled for choice when it comes to food. It magically appears on the supermarket shelves and we put it in our trolleys without a thought. Food is so convenient and easily accessible for us. Imagine if you could only eat what you could grow yourself or if you had to walk tens of kilometres to get food?

6. Hunger is not just physical, it's emotional. It effects your mood, which in turn effects everything you do! Extreme hunger cannot be solved by just throwing food at people.

    Did I truly experience what it's like to live in extreme poverty by eating on $2 a day for a week? Not even close! But it helps to put things in perspective and inspires me to push on, to keep advocating for the world's poor in every way I can.

    As I was preparing for this week, I thought of how well the idea of 'living below the line' could translate to a 'Share the Table' event. Wouldn't it be interesting to hold a meal with a group of people where there was the equivalent of $2 worth of food per person? It's a great opportunity to do something really creative that will get people thinking more deeply about poverty and what we can do about it.

    This week as you sip your morning coffee or make a quick snack, spare a thought for those taking the challenge of eating on $2 a day, but more importantly, spend some time thinking, praying and advocating for those around the world who are living on $2 a day every day.

    Zoe Scott is the Micah Challenge Communications Intern.