Below the line – day 3 and 4

“I’ve made it through my sugar and caffeine come down, the days are long though as I still have my day work to get through but my focus is coming back. After a rough couple of days I am now able to focus on whether or not I am hungry, hangry or just miserable because I don’t have any sugar flowing through me!”

The notes I took at the time whilst living below the line. 

I think gaining a true appreciation of chronic hunger can only be truly acheived after a prolonged period of doing so, I got to count down the days until I could gorge myself on as much as I wanted (if I wanted) and drink coffee until my heart jumped out of my chest. For the 1 billion plus people living constantly in chronic hunger, they have no such joy of an end to their situation. The different below the line or hunger projects do raise money for the cause and raises awareness for those of us that take part but how much change is it making really? I’ve always believed that by dropping pebbles in a pond we create ripples and if we drop enough, we can create tidal waves

But I am not going to make this another post about sugar and focus more on the good things going on out here in Melbourne for another group of hungry people – the homeless.

There is a fantastic coffee bar in Melbourne Central called Streat. 100% of their profits go to helping young homeless people and the coffee is great too. It’s kind of a pay it forward deal.

Then there is the soup kitchen in Degraves Street that, for a few dollars more, donates a meal to a homeless person who wants one. They have neat system that allows you to leave a message and they put that message into a bowl every time a meal is taken.

Then there is the food wagon outside St Paul’s Cathedral opposite Federation Square that does a mean meal too.  

If you’re in the Melbourne CBD area, support these places as they are making a difference to the people in their community. Embrace humanity, it’s a big universe and we might be all we have.


Below the line – day 2 

Into my second day of living below the line and thinking that I am going pretty well, that is until about 3pm when I feel the sugar and coffee withdrawal hit me like a tonne of bricks. I literally could not focus on the books in front of me for a little while. I was irritable, short tempered and think it distracted me from feeling hungry.

I’ve been conscious of the amounts of sugar in our food for some time, numerous documentaries have flirted with the issue but most recently it was the blog Running on Clean which highlighted the depths of the problem. Sugar in our food is a privilege that many living in chronic hunger could not even begin to imagine.

People often talk about privilege in developed countries as though it relates only to people who are born into vast wealth, that is to say those living in mansions, driving flash cars or drinking £30,000 worth of champagne in nightclubs; but privilege extends to people like myself, lucky enough to be born into a family that could afford to put food on my plate and a roof over my head when I was growing up. We were by no means rich, in the mainstream definition of the term, but we were significantly richer than the millions of people living in chronic hunger I saw on television growing up, or the billions that I read about today and am doing this project for. Unfortunately so many of us take for granted our place in the world. 

Privilege is about more than just colour or riches. It is about the very food and water we eat and drink.
We are fortunate only through our birth rights that we have access to clean drinking water, food, fuel and shelter. That so many go without because they lack the necessary purchasing power, in a world of so much excess, is a poor reflection on our societies. That ‘check your privilege’ saying can swing round and round for us all. The absurd thing is that though chronic hunger is stated by the World Bank as people living in less than £1 a day, there are children in developed countries, rich economies such as the UK, going to school hungry and malnourished to the point rickets is back. This is something we surely cannot continue to abide?!

My bowls of plain porridge and rice have certainly not been appetising, I was struggling with my sugar withdrawal and possibly hungry but unable to tell the difference between the two but I knew two things; I was uncomfortable and I wasn’t going to die – so I carried on into day 3, hoping I was going to feel better the next day.

Empathy is stronger than sympathy

In a world of excess, where half the food we buy away is thrown away and half that is grown feeds livestock, millions of people live in chronic hunger. I have often thought, whilst sat drinking my coffee, that I’ve just spent on a couple of hot drinks what some people have to live on a week (including health costs etc). So with time being my closest friend at the moment, I am getting on with trying to live below the line.

I’m late but better late than never they say. I get $10 Australian (or about five of your English pounds) to go shopping and eat for five days.

According to the Oxford dictionary:  Hunger is a term which has three meanings (Oxford English Dictionary 1971)

  • the uneasy or painful sensation caused by want of food; craving appetite. Also the exhausted condition caused by want of food
  • the want or scarcity of food in a country
  • a strong desire or craving

Of these three definitions, I will not want for the scarcity of food in Melbourne but may face exhaustion or cravings. Initially I will be doing this for five days but may increase the duration as the end approaches. I have the luxury of being able to go back to my life where excess is the norm for most of us, but for over 1 billion people, that is a dream beyond their comprehension.

I went to a popular local supermarket and bought the following:

  • Bread
  • Rice – 1kg
  • Oats – 900g
  • Banana
  • Cannellini beans – 1 tin
  • Unsalted butter

For a total of $9.60. I will try to upload a daily video and blog, you’ll be able to follow the video on my YouTube channel. A lot of people do this challenge to raise money for poverty awareness, I do not have an account for that but if you would like to support the below the line projects then you could sponsor someone who has recently completed their below the line fundraiser on the link provided here.

For more info on below the line events see the links below.