LBL Day Six, It’s Not Over Til It’s Over.

I have received a few messages from concerned friends and strangers since I announced that I was extending the Live Below The Line challenge to use up the last of my £5 supplies, and I would like to try to alleviate some concerns.

I’d like to first thank everyone for their concern for my health – it is something I take seriously myself – and to clarify that I have sought advice from a dietitian about the challenge, who confirmed what I thought about my nutritional intake at the moment. It’s lower than it would ideally be, but I’m not at any real risk to my health if I continue for a few more days, and I will return to my normal eating patterns at the end of the challenge – which is higher in fruit, dairy products and protein than my current supplies!

I decided to continue with the challenge for two reasons, firstly because I am still fundraising for Oxfam, and secondly because I am finding it challenging on a personal level. People often level accusations at me about my normal food shop and lifestyle that ‘not everyone has a herb garden’ or cumin and paprika in the cupboard. I know. I have lived through worse – regular readers will know that in the worst days last year I missed meals for days on end just to feed my son. Those who don’t know the story, I recommend reading ‘Hunger Hurts’ on the front page of my blog.

People ask me what Oxfam will do to combat poverty with the money that is raised by me and others for the Live Below The Line campaign. Oxfam are currently part of a collaborative effort between charities called Enough Food If, which aims to tackle four main causes of food poverty, including education around nutrition and budgets, fair distribution, etc.

The difference between me now, doing this as a challenge, and me a few months ago, is that a few months ago I couldn’t just ‘quit when I felt like it’. I didn’t have a store cupboard to fall back on, I didn’t have the ability to just stop.

I’m glad people are concerned – but I have the luxury of choice this time around. I can choose to stop. I just haven’t yet. And I promise not to forget my lunch again.

To donate to Live Below The Line, a global poverty project, click here:

If you are taking part in this years Live Below The Line challenge and want to share your experience, get in touch at

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe

Categories: Blog, Live Below The Line


  1. Well done – you are an inspiration to many!

    What most people think they know about nutrition is nonsense and the so called experts and trained professionals aren’t much better either. Nobody in the west ever got sick from a protein deficiency – quite the opposite is true. Billions of asians don’t have trouble making babies because they eat soy products. Nobody died because they skipped a meal or two – even skinny folks have enough body fat to keep them going for days without food. And carbs are not the enemy. Bad advice, poor science, marketing spin (lies) and dodgy TV doctors are the enemy. There’s some great resources out there if you want to learn about good nutrition. If I could only choose one I’d sincerely recommend you read The China Study by Prof. T. Colin Campbell and I’d be happy to send you a copy if you want to read it.

  2. I reckon you’re right Richard and you make some good points.

    I am glad, Jack, that you have the luxury of choice. I still find it hard to believe that people go hungry in the uk, but clearly they do.

    What needs to happen so that everyone can have enough to eat?

    How would it be if all the people who we see on television in prograns like “Secret Eaters” took the LBL challenge?

  3. I have borrowed’ home from Uni’ Daughter’s laptop…and while I still have internet, want to congratulate you Jack, you are an inspiration to me,a 53 year old Mother, just signed off JSA and petrified how I am going to pay my rent top up,feed two Uni Daughters and pay my bills. I really draw strength from your recipes,advice,budgeting tips and general comments about poverty.

    I despair when I walk past the Southend Iceland Store Deliveries drive in and see rubbish bins full of food,that no one can touch, unless they want to get arrested for trespassing…it is heartbreaking,when just further down the road is the Homeless Shelter in York Road,just 5 mins away,

    Please continue to write your inspirational blogs …you truly have an understanding of grassroot level poverty in the UK.

  4. I’m not worried about your health lol cause its more than obvious to me you know what your doing and how to look after yourself as well as sb 🙂

  5. Well done on completing and then even continuing the challenge!
    If you ever repeated LBTL another year, is there anything you’d do differently? Think you’ve queried buying mixed herbs, an onion and white rather than wholemeal bread, which made me wonder if there was other changes you wish you’d made?

  6. Here’s another set of reporters in Australia doing the challenge with as much whole food as possible: Reporters Elissa Doherty and Aleks Devic try to live on $2 a day for Live Below the Line. Go to heraldsun dotcom dotau and search on the title for the intro story. Full story in next Sunday’s paper.


  7. Jack, you’re a gem!

    I have been very fortunate in that I have always had ‘enough’ and frequently much more than enough to eat (even though I have thought at times that I hadn’t!). I do however, remember my mother telling me that she often used to watch my sister and I eating when we were kids because there wasn’t enough for her as well. If we queried it, she would just say she wasn’t hungry and would eat something later.

    Totally agree with Richard’s views on so-called ‘experts’ etc.

  8. Well done for carrying on the LBL challenge after the 5 days. It has been inspirational reading.

    The one thing that has struck me, and it must be the case for many during hard times – is that although your budget covered food….. what about other essentials (?!) such as toilet roll, washing powder, washing up liquid, shampoo and soap? I’m guessing many people just go without these things, that we take for granted?

    Following an admin error several years ago, I didn’t receive a benefits payment. This left me (and my 2 children) without any money for a week. We had to rely on a food bank and the small amount of food that we had in our cupboards. Due to the late payment of that benefit, I then went over my agreed overdraft limit meaning I got charged by the bank….then began a viscous cycle of always being short of money as I only had just enough to cover the bills (and not additional bank charges too). The bank were not at all accommodating and the charges built up. It took ages to recover from this. Fortunately, we did have more than £1 a day to live on but not much more…. possibly £15 – £20 a week to feed the three of us.

    Every day, due to circumstances beyond their control, people really are struggling to put food in their mouths, right here in the UK. That makes me so sad. It shouldn’t be the case. 🙁

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