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Liz takes on the #PovertyBox challenge

Only €14 on food for a week - could you do it? 

That's exactly what VSO Ireland's Liz Gordy is attempting this week...

As part of Development Perspective’s #SDGChallenge, which focuses one of the Sustainable Development Goals per month, I’m taking part in their “poverty box” challenge. Development Perspectives, an Irish development education NGO, focused on SDG 1- No Poverty for the month of October and is focusing on SDG 2- Zero Hunger for November. I know I’m late for joining October’s “poverty box” challenge, but I think the “poverty box” is a great way to bring attention to poverty, hunger, and the issue of food waste, so it’s still relevant for November. My husband and I will be living on €2.00 each per day from today, Monday 13th November through Sunday 19th November. €2.00 per day is what more than 3 billion people around the world currently live on. This figure has greatly reduced since the Millennium Development Goals were implemented in 2000, but this is still too many people living in poverty.

            Let me start by saying that I think the “poverty box” is an excellent way to give people in developed countries an insight into how many in developing countries are living. We also must keep in mind that while this challenge sounds difficult or even impossible to many, we actually have a major leg up in this challenge. The challenge is to buy all of our food for the week on a total of €28.00, but in reality people need to completely live on the same amount. We’re not factoring in rent, utilities, or personal care items. Luckily for us this week, we didn’t need to buy any toilet paper or personal care items anyway, but buying those things would’ve made this much more difficult. In Europe and North America we have discount food shops like Aldi, Lidl and Walmart that provide fresh food and ingredients for next to nothing. People in developed countries spend a much smaller percentage of their income on basic needs compared to people in developing countries. To learn more about the issue of food inequality and global hunger crisis, read this article from The Guardian about the true cost of food. I also need to point that I had food in my house leftover from last week. I’ve decided to cut my allowance of €28.00 in half to account for the food I already had (shown below).

It might not seem like a lot of food but it still gives me an advantage going into the week. I also forgot to include things like cooking oils, herbs and spices in the photo. I had a lot of vegetable scraps in my freezer, which I took out to make a large pot of vegetable stock to be used in soups throughout the week.

I have a garden full of herbs and some tomatoes and scallions that can be added to my meals. I understand that this is not a resource available to everyone.

So, after evaluating what I already had at home, I was off to my local Lidl to see what I could buy with €14.00. I have to admit that I felt a bit self-conscious going around the shop with my phone as my calculator, weighing up every purchase, and having to make some hard decisions. I didn’t even think about looking at treats or alcohol. I was hoping that there might be some money left for buying cheese or a bit of meat, but it was out of the question. I was also worried about spending all my money in one go and not having anything for later in the week. I spent €11.79 and kept €2.21 in case I would need more milk, bananas or potatoes later in the week. This is what I came back with:

This challenge might seem easy so far, but it’s important to keep in mind that I wasn’t able to buy any convenience foods and will need to make everything from scratch. I’m fortunate enough to work three days a week and have time for making things like bread and vegetable stock. You’re probably wondering how I’ll feed myself and my husband three meals a day plus snacks for the next seven days. Check back in to see what meals and snacks will keep us going and how we get on.

Are you up to the challenge?

Find out more about Development Perspective's #SDGChallenge here.

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