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Living Below The Line

BLOGLive Below The Line
This week three PFFSers (Carman, JoAnn, and Santo) participated in the “Live Below the Line” challenge where each of them did not spend more than $1.50/day for food in order to raise their own awareness of global poverty. We did this in conjunction with our end of year Gateway during which 8th grade students are examining poverty with an interdisciplinary (science, math and humanities) perspective.

On Sunday I found myself approaching the 5 days as a sort of adventure and began researching to find advice regarding what food I should purchase that would be cheap, nutritious and filling. When I got to my local grocery store I felt challenged to look for what was on sale – it was like a game. I was delighted to find two separate shelves that had significant discounts for Passover and Easter food.

Groceries for 2 for 5 days

Groceries for 2 for 5 days

When I finished selecting items, I checked-in with the store person managing the self, check-out lanes three different times to verify that I was indeed getting the discount. I was embarrassed to be so penny-pinching and actually told him about the challenge. He didn’t seem to particularly care, but I noticed that I was not wanting to be ‘seen’ as just some person who was overwrought about missing a $.48 savings. I’m sure this penny-pinching process doesn’t feel like an adventure, a game, a challenge – if it’s your life.
Throughout the week I experienced at different times being hungry, tired, grumpy, sleepy and even sick to my stomach. I found myself obsessing about food – what I couldn’t eat, when and what my next meal might be, and how unsatisfied I felt. I felt stingy about my food portion and hesitant to share it with Santo. I was keenly aware of food that was being given away or thrown away around me.

Although this whole challenge is structured with global poverty in mind ($1.50 represents the daily income of a large number of people in developing countries) I have been mostly thinking about my own students and the people in my community who are dealing with food insecurity. I can’t imagine how hard it is to be a student coming to school hungry and having to engage in our learning processes. I hate thinking about kids who know they have homework to do, but find it difficult to think about anything except their challenging living conditions. And I’m heartbroken when I think about the kids who sometimes will leap – inappropriately – at any free food and have to be reminded about what it is “polite” to take.

All of this I have known, but living this week on $1.50/day has brought it to the forefront of my mind. It is so easy to look the other way.

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