Climbing to the Peak: The Third Day of Live Below the Line

What can be worse than two days of tasteless food? Three more of them, or the sad fact that 1.4 billion people don’t have the choice to spend more than $1.50 per day on their food, health, transportation and housing combined.

I’ve undertaken the Live Below the Line challenge as a member of CARE USA; hopefully I can generate enough awareness to cause people to consider not just the food they eat, how healthful/unhealthy it might be, what they throw away or even the phrase, “I’m so poor” being uttered when a person can’t afford steak and potatoes, but can have a box of chicken strips and fries instantly at their fingertips for $4.99. I want people to consider that waste isn’t just a concept to admonish, but a problem to fix. Hunger is entirely solvable without the inclusion of political agenda.

I don’t like the food I’m eating. I hate it. I hate soaking beans, cooking near-flavorless food, ingesting polenta, drinking soymilk and forgoing tea. Living below the line is awful, but for 1.4 billion people it is a reality that they do not have the energy to turn up their noses at.

We make oats in the morning, and while I gleefully reveled in the $.15 leftover in our two-person team budget allowing me to buy one  banana for the week, I similarly opine its lasting for only two breakfasts between us. While I applaud Dan’s ingenious cooking of lentils to magically taste like burger (albeit dry) and the inclusion of roasted sweet peppers to ignite my bland palate, I have hated every bit of it.

I have had constant headaches, dreamed aimlessly about oranges and bananas, poured water into coffee cups and pretended it was tea.

We have enough to eat, but the food brings us no joy. I can’t force myself to eat more tasteless bites than I can stomach in one setting and make myself hungry just to avoid the lack of flavor, of spice, of substance.

I empathize with the many individuals who must exist on $1.50 per day. They don’t just feed their families with it, they make their clothes, buy their homes, travel to work and relieve their ailments with it — or don’t, considering the astronomical cost of all those things when your budget is so miniscule. This is not life. It is simply existing.

CARE works with women to teach them how to provide for their families. To teach them how to plan their families, to have a voice, to learn, to contribute. CARE gives women the opportunities their fathers, brothers, husbands and communities never thought they were worth. It is miraculous to me that once these women learn to think creatively, produce economically and live healthy that they invest their wealth and knowledge back into the families and communities that didn’t give them the chance in the first place.

They are powerful.

My colleague at CARE wrote about her experience with Live Below the Line too. She thought the same thing.

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