A weekly paper has issued an extreme budgeting challenge for both staff and readers, asking them to eat for just £1 a day ahead of a poverty charity’s annual event.
Inspired by Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith’s claim that he could live on £53 a week, The Staffordshire Newsletter decided to run the challenge to see whether the paltry sum of £7 a week could feed one person. It also mirrors a similar challenge run each year by charity Live Below the Line.
Reporters Gail Atkinson, Robin Scott and Kerry Ashdown all signed up for the scheme, keeping an online log of their progress.
Gail wrote that she had decided to continue trying to live for £1 a day after realising it was much more manageable than she first thought – though admitted she missed luxuries such as chocolate.
Robin said his saving grace had been cheap supermarket noodles, at just 15p each, while Kerry said she had simply rationed her supplies and gone without.
“I’m feeling hungrier and thinking about food a lot more than usual, having to really think about what I’m eating much more than I normally would,” she said.
Gail said there had been much debate over what the rules should be – with some fellow guinea pigs accusing others of cheating when they ate some cake brought into the office by a colleague who was leaving.
Then, she said, her father gave her a lamb steak which would have gone off otherwise as his freezer had broken.
“I must confess I have been having a tussle with myself over the cake and steak issue. Would it have been better to waste the steak?” she said.
“Is it against the spirit of the pound a day food challenge to accept food donations in any circumstances? In real world conditions my budget is not much more than this…and would someone living on a pound a day really refuse free food if it crops up?”
All staff taking part declined donations from some businesses who took pity on them, asking instead that the food be donated to charity House of Bread which serves up hot meals to homeless and vulnerable people, as well as providing food bags and toiletries to those in need.
Among those in the community who have pledged to take part is deputy mayor Councillor Frank James, fellow councillor Barry Stamp, Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy and others.
Sales executive at the Newsletter, Anna Haycock, was forced to quit the challenge early after finding that it was affecting her health.
“I thought I would be all right but I have lost five pounds. I’m below nine stone and I’ve never been that in my life so I thought it better not to do it,” she said.