It is Saturday and I can now reflect on what I have gained from taking part in Live Below the Line, which 20 Year 9 girls and 8 members of staff took part in this week.
We have raised over £700 for Restless Development, a charity that champions young people to make a difference to other people’s lives; something that I strongly support. The girls have said that after taking part in this challenge, they have a greater understanding of what it is like to do without, not to have the freedom to eat when they like and to be limited in the type of food they can eat. They have learned the effects of not having a nutritious and fulfilling diet. They were more tired and I have to say my Deputy Head noticed that I was more grumpy (she was right, a poor diet dies makes you irritable). At the end of the week the girls were not craving for junk food, they were craving for fruit and vegetables. I was also surprised that they were not craving for meat.
For each meal the girls carefully worked out their budget and what they could afford. They scoured the internet to find out how much pasta, rice, lentils cost and what they could afford to put with it. They quickly found food they took for granted became a luxury and that for a week their diet would be loaded with complex carbohydrates. Dairy products and fruit and vegetables would be the exception, rather than the norm. They began to appreciate the cost of food and how little they could afford to buy.
The campaign encourages you to come together as a community to share your resources and enjoy meals together. For me it was a pleasure to sit down every lunch time and eat the delicious food served by the girls. You really do saviour every spoonful and the day we were given two pieces of very cheap chocolate, it was like nectar! I was taken aback by the girls’ culinary skills. Each lunchtime a different group of girls worked effectively together as a team, to ensure we had lunch in time. It was like a military organisation and I can only say what a superb Food Technology Department we have who have taught the girls these skills so well.
Personally I have appreciated more the difficulties people in this country have with limited funds. A pound a day for food does not go far. Choice does not exist and a poor diet makes you tired, lack lustre and irritable. The girls were asked if they would do it again, they said they would not from choice but they would if it was to raise money for charities that make a difference to poverty.
Live Below the Line is something I would encourage all schools to take part in. It brings people together, it raises money but most of all it makes you appreciate what you have got.