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Live Below the Line Challenge

Live Below The Line is an incredibly powerful and pertinent campaign going on right now, from April 29-May3.  The campaign challenges everyone to live below the poverty line for 5 days in order to gain a better understanding and a deep appreciation of the struggles and strife an enormous amount of people live with daily.  The challenge is to feed yourself on only $1.75 per day for 5 days, which is the Canadian equivalent of the extreme poverty line.

The Reason? “To give a glimpse into the lives of 1.4 billion people who have no choice but to live below the line every day – and who have to make $1.75 cover a lot more than food

Live Below the Line is a campaign that’s changing the way people think about poverty – and making a huge difference – by challenging everyday people to live on the equivalent of the extreme poverty line for 5 days.”


Unfortunately, extreme poverty is an inherent part of our neoliberal capitalist system.  Currently, the way we organize global political economy is such that development can not exist without simultaneously creating underdevelopment somewhere else.  Capital accumulation is driven by several different kinds of ‘enclosure’, processes and power relations that dispossess people from land and resources in order to both exploit those resources and to free up labour to help do the job.  Money flows up the hierarchy in this system, and so people are poor because others are so rich and surplus earnings are not redistributed.  David Harvey, among many others, have written extensively on this issue, and it is extremely important that we not only understand what it feels like to live below the poverty line, but also that we understand that making donations to the poor will not be enough to change the systemic injustices that keep people under that poverty line.  


The “Live Below The Line” campaign is therefore extremely important to increase awareness and empathy for people suffering in poverty, but to seriously tackle extreme poverty, we need to be ready and willing to make systemic change, not just changes in our attitudes or in how much we donate.


  1. So I’m not participating this year, I didn’t hear about it until very recently, but I’ve heard that after 5 days of doing this you become very aware of:

    1) How much food you actually waste.
    2) How much we actually pay for a single meal during the course of our day. A $10 salad isn’t out of the question for a lot of us…and that’s more than some people can spend on food for an entire week.
    3) You simply cannot participate in this challenge and receive adequate nutrition, but that’s the point. This diet forces you to eat essentially pasta and other less than nutritious options for each meal.

    Can’t wait to participate next year and raise some money in the process.

    • You can still participate for 5 days straight, regardless if you’ve missed the official dates for this campaign. You’re right, it is a marvelous way to critically look at how much food you waste daily and how most people are forced to consume very unhealthy meals to survive. I’m glad to hear you’ll be participating next year!

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