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Crossing the Finish Line

One of our own took up the fight against extreme poverty.

May 8, 2014

Imagine surviving on $1.50 per day in food and drink.  That’s not $1.50 per meal, it’s $1.50 per day. For billions of people around the world living in extreme poverty, living on this meager amount is a way of life, with no end in sight. In a call to action, Live Below the Line challenged people to spend only $1.50 per day on food and drink for 5 days in the attempt to change the way we think about extreme poverty, to make a difference, and to raise funds for poverty-fighting organizations.

Our own healthy living/health and beauty buyer Lorna Parton took up the cause and the Challenge, from April 28 through May 2. We connected with Lorna the day before she took up the challenge, and she shared her story with us in our “Walk the Line” article published here on our website. Lorna completed the Challenge, and we caught up with her upon “crossing the finish line” to see what it was like to live below the line for five days.

What motivated Lorna to take the Challenge? “I‘m doing this because our world is not healthy and I want to bring attention and awareness to that fact, and take an active role in alleviating the suffering.”

On day 2.5 of the challenge, Lorna sat down with us to share how she was feeling both physically, spiritually, and emotionally with regards to this new way of living.

“I’m really not that hungry and I’m actually sleeping quite well at night, but I am feeling sluggish, disconnected, and unfocused. Kind of like I’m drifting through the day,” says Lorna. “However, at the same time, I find that my senses of taste and smell are heightened and I’m hyperaware of even the slightest aroma or flavor.” 

Throughout the week, Lorna’s diet consisted of kitchari, rice with green lentils, sourdough toast and lots of water. According to Lorna, “Bulk is the way to go” when it comes to purchasing ingredients to stay within the $1.50 per day budget.

The Challenge also tapped into Lorna’s spiritual life. “I’m truly appreciating this experience, and I have a more intensified sense of gratitude…even for something as simple as a bowl of rice. I’m also experiencing a profound lack of choice, which is a grim reality for so many people, and that’s really an eye-opening experience.”

On May 4, Lorna looked back on the previous days with a new awareness on all levels. By Thursday and Friday (the last two days of the challenge) she felt “subdued, but not spacey. But rather very Zen and clearheaded.” 

“I woke up Saturday morning with the realization that food is very much a habit because it’s so available at all times and choices are everywhere for us. I thought that hunger would be my main distraction, and that never happened; hunger wasn’t the challenge. The challenge was knowing that people live this way their whole lives, and that it doesn’t end for them on Friday. It’s constant and ongoing.”

The Challenge even affected Lorna’s family in an unexpected way. Lorna’s mom was impacted by the process, as her concern for her daughter’s welfare, health, and nutrition was instinctually always on her mind as a caring, nurturing mother.

“The experience with my mom brought another aspect to light – It made me think about how a mom living in extreme poverty feels and responds to her child when that child is hungry and she’s unable to provide the nourishment her child needs to grow and live,” says Lorna. “It was a very humbling and heartbreaking at the same time.”

Lorna found herself overwhelmed by gratitude, which was the overarching theme of Lorna’s personal Challenge experience.

“I have such a new appreciation for food and what it does for your body and soul. I truly realize how the making and sharing of healthy, delicious food nourishes our basic emotional and spiritual needs as individual human beings and as a community. It’s truly a priceless gift that many are not able to enjoy because of extreme poverty.”

*While the Challenge is over Lorna, it continues for billions around the world.  Lorna has raised $400 in pledges for UNICEF as her beneficiary in the Live Below the Line Challenge.  For more information, visit