Last week, I took part in JCI UK Pound a Day Challenge: living on £1 a day for food and drinks for 7 days. The aim was to understand the impact that hunger brings on our communities and raise money for Save the Children (my usual weekly expenses minus the £7 were donated to charity). Save the children works on preventing food poverty, not only in developing countries but also in the UK.
It was a really interesting and challenging experience. The £7 had to include food and drinks, including dining out and alcohol and we were not allowed to accept food from friends or colleagues. It was not only about donating money but also seeing what it is like to live in such a situation.
So, how was it?
Tough. It didn’t think it would be that hard. Not because of the amount of food you eat, but mainly because of its quality. I actually spent £6.70 last week.
Here is what I bought:
5 x onions
Smart Price Pasta x 2 packs
4 x Smart Price tomato soup
1L of milk
Smart Price strawberry jam
Smart Price Cup soup (4 servings)
Goodbye meat, hot drinks and biscuits. But I was quite impressed by what you can actually find (4 cup soup for £0.20!). My meals were pretty boring as I wasn’t able to get very varied food throughout the week, so I ended up eating the same thing every day:
– Porridge for breakfast (with water, and a bit of milk)
– Pasta, carrots, onions and sausage for lunch
– Soup and two toasts (no butter!) for dinner.
It was frustrating to eat the same thing every day, but this is all I could come up with with the ingredients I had. But you can also get creative: a 24p tomato soup is also a perfect sauce alternative for your pasta (but I am glad I managed to afford some carrots and onions to go with it).
This was a great experience and I am glad I took part in it, as it made me change the way I see things or how I buy.
What I took from it
It is quite easy for us to go the shop to get a treat if we feel hungry in the middle of the day. On a £7 weekly budget, you can’t. You have to budget very carefully your week. My colleagues and friends were surprised to hear that I was not allowed to accept food and drinks from them, or even take advantage of the free food at work. But for people living in this situation, very few help them. We are more likely to get help because we are doing this as part of a challenge. I wasn’t always (very) hungry during the challenge, but I was actually worried I’ll be hungry. So I was thinking about food constantly. And then I got hungry.
This was a challenging experience but it did help to see so many JCI members getting involved in the project across the UK, so we could share tips and experiences throughout the week.
I think Pound a Day is a great way to raise awareness of poverty in the world and in the UK. People are more likely to understand food poverty if they can see how it affects someone they know. If I take part in the challenge again next year, I’ll probably do things slightly differently but I personally took a lot from the experience. Experiencing the struggle that thousands of people have to go through is an eye opener and a great conversation starter with friends and colleagues, mainly when they ask you why you are boycotting the free buffet with champagne and canapes at work!
Categorised in: Community
This post was written by makedo