Today is World Hunger Day, a day of recognition for communities who are surviving on less than £1 a day but working hard to lift themselves out of hunger with their own sustainable food solutions.
Last August some of the One team decided to take part in ‘Live Below The Line’, a challenge to live on £1 a day for 5 days, raising funds for a worthy cause and boosting awareness by spending a little bit (well, a fair bit) less on the weekly shop. Living on £1 a day or less seemed unthinkable, given how easy it is to spend £5 or more onlunch in the close proximity of our London office. The tight budget meant going back to basics. The lunchtime sandwiches were out and porridge was in!
Armed with nothing more than a crisp £5 note and a basket, we marched into the supermarket looking for inventive, economical sustenance for the next couple of days. Nobody wants to feel hungry but more importantly, we needed to make sure we didn’t run out of food.
You soon realise that £5 really isn’t a lot of money in food terms. A few nutritious items like eggs (£1.70), bread (£1), milk (89p) and cheese (£2.35) would push us over budget and couldn’t be rustled up into three separate meals. Meals had to be filling but plentiful and after seeking recipe inspiration from friends and relatives, Managing Director Duncan decided on a host of staples like potatoes, rice and pasta along with tinned tomatoes and stock for flavour.
After much deliberating, I emerged from the supermarket with tinned tomatoes, carrots and a job lot of pasta, porridge oats and instant noodles. There wasn’t much in the way of flavour and without venturing outside the £5 budget (and breaking the rules), there could be no reaching to the cupboard for a splash of chilli sauce or salt and pepper. You soon start to realise how lucky we are to have such a huge choice of flavours at our disposal. Routine treats were also out, as tea and coffee joined the list of ‘luxury’ items that we couldn’t afford.
Perhaps the break from caffeine led to some of the withdrawal symptoms felt by our participants. Feelings of hunger, lethargy, not to mention a furry mouth from the stodge were commonplace among the team – not ideal for a week at work.
However, starved of our tea breaks and indulgent snacks though we were, we felt extremely lucky to have the support of generous sponsors who helped us raise over £15,000. All of the proceeds went towards feeding programmes in two schools in Malawi which means 800 children now recieve a daily meal.
Living below the line gave us a totally new outlook on food and the struggle it presents in the developing world. An office of self-confessed foodies we may be, but when you consider that the feeding programme equates to just £7 to feed a child for a year, those indulgences are soon put into perspective.
Was it worth the caffeine withdrawal? Absolutely.