I (sort of) lived on $5 per day for food for 5 days. I say “sort of”, because I had work functions on two of those days that required me to eat out at a restaurant. I tried to order modestly, but in both cases my meal was more than my full day’s allowance. The rest of the week was made up of beans, rice, potatoes, pasta and other filling, albeit low-nutrient, foods. I craved fresh vegetables and had to remind myself not to open my overflowing spice drawer to season my food as I normally would. That is something I definitely take for granted. As my son and I spent time this weekend planning out our herb garden for this year, I appreciated more than ever my backyard that springs forth fresh herbs and produce for my family.
The biggest challenge (aside from food boredom) was planning ahead. I work long days and am away from home from early in the morning until late in the evening. I tend to have protein bars (at $2.50 each!) lying around my desk or in my purse to eat in a pinch. I am diabetic, so having that quick source of glucose is critical to prevent hypoglycemia. That is impossible when living on $5 per day. I had to cook my meals at night then package them in appropriate portions to take to work. I found this hard and I have a husband that works from home and takes care of the house, our son, the dogs…you name it. I honestly can’t imagine being a single mother and trying to juggle everything, while worrying constantly about money and how to provide for my family.
I started to type the words “I couldn’t do it for more than a week”, and then I stopped. I could do it…we all do things we must in order to survive and protect the ones we love. I am blessed beyond measure and don’t have to do it. However, this challenge has made me all the more aware of those that work just as hard as I do, but have so fewer resources. This experience has strengthened my resolve to build a pathway out of poverty for children and families in Northwest Arkansas; for those family that shouldn’t have to scrape together pennies to put food on their tables. We have much to do and there no better time to start!