Charity Choice Blog

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Taking the Live Below The Line Challenge

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APT Action on Poverty is a small charity focusing on economic empowerment and social change in developing countries. This year they decided to take part in the Live Below the Line campaign, and asked their supporters to get involved in the challenge that asks participants to buy all their food and drink for only £1 a day for 5 days.

APT Fundraising Manager Stella Broster describes how one volunteer took the challenge for them.

Reuben is the founder of Locavore, which is a social enterprise working on sustainable foods in Glasgow. He decided to take the challenge for us because he said “it fitted with my personal ideology, and that of Locavore. The global food system is in a mess. There are gaps in many economies. The production of some of the food which is sold very cheaply in this country, causes problems elsewhere. Also, I wanted to see whether I could do the challenge ethically and sustainably - and not lose sight of my ideals”.

After looking through the many charities on the Live Below the Line website, Reuben chose to support APT Action on Poverty. “APT’s mission to support local partners to help vulnerable people earn sustainable livelihoods fits very well with our principals at Locavore.”

Reuben prepared for the 5 days by spending a lot of time on internet research. "I researched the calorie content of different foods - was a split pea cheaper per calorie than pearl barley? (The answer is - there’s not much in it!) I then bought what I felt would be traditional staples of the British Isles - our equivalent of rice and maize: flour, split peas, oats and barley. There was a little money left over for potatoes and carrots, some oil and salt/spices, [as] I felt flavour would be essential”.

Thanks to his local knowledge, contacts and suppliers, Reuben was able to source his produce locally, ethically and sustainably, and to buy almost everything he wanted within the set budget of £1 per day. Reuben also thought about what people in the past, the peasants in Scotland, would have done. With this in mind he located nettles, ground elder, edible greens and wild garlic.

During the challenge, Reuben’s feelings fluctuated. “I found the first day or two quite hard. I probably eat more than the average person (I’m a big chap). My calorie intake went down quite dramatically; I think I usually eat around 3,000 calories per day, and I calculated I was surviving on around 1,800. Also, at first the meals I cooked were quite bland - just barley with nettles. But on other days I felt fine and couldn’t believe how well I could eat for so little. I made a curry with split peas, garlic, oil and spice (and some flat bread to go with it) and it tasted fantastic!”

At the end of the challenge, Reuben felt that as someone committed to eating locally, ethically and sustainably he could eat reasonably well for £3 a day in the UK, but “I imagine living on £1 a day for longer than 5 days would be unsustainable for your health”.

Andy Jeans, the Chief Executive of APT Action on Poverty, said “we are extremely grateful that Reuben chose to support our work by taking part in this year’s Live Below the Line. We are absolutely delighted that he completed the task in such an admirable way!”

Find out more about APT Action on Poverty on their Charity Choice microsite, and discover how you can fundraise for them to support their work transforming the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable people in Africa and South Asia.

Locavore is an organisation which promotes projects that help create sustainable local food economies. They have a community kitchen and not-for-profit local food shop in Glasgow, and also help set up community and market gardens.