Live Below the Line is a global campaign that has launched for the first time in Canada this year. Live Below the Line ran from April 29th-May 3rd  and challenged Canadians to eat and drink on just $1.75/day for five days. The campaign aims to provide a glimpse of how 1.4 billion people worldwide survive for ALL their needs, not just food and drink.

I had the opportunity to interview Ennis Esmer from CTV’s The Listener about the challenge and why he is taking part in such an important cause.

Why are you taking Live Below the Line challenge?

I support LBL because it’s a conversation starter. It’s an eye-opening, locally relatable way to bring awareness to one of the most serious, devastating problems in the world today. Whenever I mention the challenge to friends, or at work, people start to consider what they would do in those circumstances. People ask questions, debate ideas, and most importantly, take the time to consider what it means to live in extreme poverty. I think that’s the whole point.

What special recipes do you have planned and want to suggest to anyone doing the challenge?

I’m going to start off with a fast until dinner Monday. During that time I’ll go to Kensington Market, Chinatown, Bulk Barn, and FreshCo. to price out legume proteins like lentils, chick peas, etc. I’ll also see about finding some good deals on oatmeal, powdered milk, and bread with (hopefully) some sort of decent fibre count. I’m going to treat myself to a dozen eggs if I can find one for less than $2, and have a half egg 4 times a day with some water as a snack.

For Monday’s dinner I’ll be taking advantage of the menu item dreamed up by Adam Urquart and the good people at This End Up (@thisendupTO). They’ve put a special chick pea and potato wrap on the menu for this week that I believe only cost them 75 cents to make, and they’ll be selling it at that price to anyone participating in the challenge. So tip of the cap to them. Hopefully my stomach will have shrunk a bit after Monday to make the next 4 days easier, and I’ll find enough cheap ingredients in bulk to get through the week. I think going from no food for most of Monday to even a little food Tuesday will make me appreciate what I’m eating all the more, and that’s the whole point of this challenge, raising money for people with no food, while gaining awareness, perspective and appreciation for what we have.

So as far as suggestions, I’d recommend eating a meal with a friend at This End Up (show them your donation page to prove you’re taking the challenge) and a half egg 4 times a day.
I notice on Twitter that you like Haagan Daz Peanut Butter and Chocolate? What daily indulgence will you miss while doing the challenge?

I believe the answer to this question is hidden in the question. Also, I’m in the habit of a daily cup of mint tea, which seems like it should be cheap and reliable, but that’s the sobering reality of extreme poverty. Even an inexpensive box of herbal tea is off the table.

What is your personal goal that you want to receive in donations?

I set a personal goal of $2,500 CAD. We’re 4 days away from the challenge and I’m almost there! Anyone who wishes to support me in this initiative can visit my profile page here:

Are there any other members of your family or circle of friends participating in the challenge with you?

That’s part of what’s making this challenge so worthwhile. I’ve got some great actor buddies involved like Aaron Abrams (NBC’s Hannibal, The LA Complex), Colin Doyle (multiple Dora Award winner), Matt Baram & Carrie-Lynn Neales from Seed, Tommie Amber-Pirie (Michael: Tuesdays & Thursdays) and Naomi Sneickus from Mr D. They’ve been huge in getting the word out, raising funds and spreading awareness. And Zoie Palmer (Lost Girl) has been tweeting the crap out of anything we put online.


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