Week of Solidarity:
April 2-9, 2017
1.2 billion people live on less than $2 a day.
The number of American families living on $2.00 per person, per day, has skyrocketed to 1.5 million American households, including about three million children.
One-third of the world is well-fed, one-third is under-fed, one-third is starving.
1a: a craving or urgent need for food or a specific nutrient b: an uneasy sensation occasioned by the lack of food c: a weakened condition brought about by prolonged lack of food
2: a strong desire.
The American diet is vastly different than much of the world. There are an estimated 1.2 billion people living on $2 a day or less. Almost half the world — over three billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day. As an act of solidarity with our brothers and sisters around the globe, we want to encourage you to eat as they would eat during the week of April 3-7.
Many people have asked, “So what does this Week of Solidarity look like? What am I supposed to do? What should I buy? What should I eat? Give me details!”
Relax. Let me let you in on a little secret: See, you have options.
This is part of what we need to reflect upon together during this week of solidarity. Most of us in this congregation live in a world of options. Granted, for some of us our options are more limited than others. But most of us don’t have to spend a great deal of energy worrying about where the next meal is coming from or what we will have to eat.
Moments before I typed these words, I finished a lunch with my wife. We ate out. I dropped down the credit card and really didn’t worry much beyond that... certainly not what I was going to eat for dinner! My freezer is full. I have food at the house. I ate out because it was convenient. It was easy. I didn’t need to think much beyond the moment.
Part of the experience of the week of solidarity is the experience of what is called “food insecurity.” When you are poor, not only do you not have food, but you must expend a lot of time and energy figuring out what to do about that condition. Whereas most of us don’t have to give a lot of thought to what we will eat, beyond “What sounds good to me?” The poor do.
So these feelings you are having—“What do I do this week? What do I eat? What do I do if I’m really hungry when I’m at work or have an important meeting?”—these are the questions the poor deal with day in and day out. What would it be like to live your life with this same kind of constant worry?
With that said, we want to provide you with enough structure that you can make this week meaningful. And yet, quite honestly, part of the experience is the wrestling with those questions.
Week of Solidarity “Tip Sheet”
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Who should, and should not, participate in the week of solidarity? **
Children, the elderly and those with special dietary needs (e.g., diabetics, pregnant women) should not participate in the nutritional part of the challenge. Also, if you struggle or have struggled with an eating disorder, be wise; this may not be for you as well. But everyone can participate at some level. Maybe you can drink only water, or cut out all sweets. Be creative. But be safe.
Q: So how many calories are in a subsistence diet?
I have no clue. Actually, the answer depends on how much you weigh, your age, your activity... any number of factors.
For most of us, an easy way to think about this is, “how would I eat living on $2 a day per person?” (Remember, adults only! Kids get a pass!) How this week plays out in your life might look different from how it works for other people -- the goal is not to be legalistic, but to identify with the poor and hungry. To sacrifice. And yes, to experience some frustration. You should feel hungry during the week.
Q: So then what exactly do I eat? I’m not that creative!
Here is a piece of advice: You will find the week of solidarity easier if you actually do it in solidarity with other people! What would happen if you and some people made a meal together? One makes soup, one makes bread, another rice and beans for the following night? Might our meals be a bit more varied and the feeling of doing this alone be a bit less intense if we were not figuring this out alone?
Some Meal Options
Plain oatmeal or Cream of Wheat
A tortilla, rice and beans
Rice with bits of fish or chicken and a vegetable
You also might choose to drink only water for that week... preferably at room temperature.
Portion sizes are much smaller than a typical American meal. One cup or eight ounces is a generous portion. Meat is a luxury, with the average African consuming about ¾ ounce per day -- the size of a small chicken nugget. Fresh fruit is rare, available only if locally grown and in season. While these meals seem meager by American standards, they actually represent diets in the broad middle of the world’s population. Approximately 1 billion people live on even less—only $1 per day.
**Please use your discernment in determining a portion size that will allow you to function in a safe manner and to also experience what life is like for the other half of the world. Those with medical conditions should honor your physician's medical recommendations. Contact your doctor if unsure about participation in the challenge. This diet is not for people under 18.