Students at PAORINHER

Friends and Freebies – Live Below the Line Challenge

April 16th, 2014

Friends and Freebies – Live Below the Line Challenge

I got some stern looks when I told people that I’d had free meals at work and dinner with friends a couple of times last week. Why? I’d decided to do the Live Below the Line challenge for HART’s PAORINHER appeal, and suggested to my Bible study group that they join me. A few friends took up the challenge, albeit with different approaches and for different amounts of time.

My main motivation was to spend less on food and to donate whatever I saved to the appeal. Easy. But secondly, I wanted to get a different perspective on our life here in the UK. I don’t for one minute want to patronise the billions of people living in extreme poverty around the world, by saying I’d do this to ‘know how they feel’. My circumstances are so different that I don’t think I ever will.

But what did strike me last week were the inequalities that exist. Suddenly my friends had more food than me, and tastier food at that. My £7 a week had gone on basic staples – white rice, oats, cheap jam etc – lots of bulk but not much nourishment. Anyway, what I came to realise was how important sharing can be. A meal offered by a friend, when you’re hungry, tired and maybe just a little bit grumpy, makes a whole world of a difference. I realised that we all come to the dinner table with the same needs and wants. Whoever we are, whatever our background, we all get hungry.

We all need friends, and that, I think, is what HART can be to the people it serves.

Now I’m back on ‘normal’ food spending, I’m so thankful to be able to share with my own friends.

P.S. here’s how I spent my £7: Approximately £3 on my part of a veg box (couldn’t get out of this and it would have gone to waste) – half a bag of spinach, half a bag of broccoli, 1 carrot, 1.5 swede, 4 little onions, 2 beetroots, 4 potatoes. Then: tinned tomatoes 34p, mixed fruit jam 29p, 500g spaghetti 20p, 1kg oats 75p, 1kg rice 40p, mushrooms 44p, apples 90p, cottage cheese 64p. I also had some sprigs of rosemary foraged from a bush in town, some hairy bittercress (a common garden weed that tastes like cress), some free sugar sachets and some dandelion roots which I roasted and made into coffee one day.

Eleanor Perkins

By Eleanor Perkins

Eleanor Perkins is a communications professional based in Warwickshire, currently working in the agricultural sector. She is particularly interested in sustainability and languages.


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