Contact Us

SVP ‘Survive on Five’ challenge: can you live on €5 a day for five days?

By Cian Molloy - 17 February, 2020

How food spending impacts those on low incomes

Survive on Five is a new challenge devised by Young SVP for teenagers and adolescents to help them understand the daily constraints and challenges faced by those on low incomes in Ireland.

The challenge, which runs for the first full week of Lent, starting on Monday 2 March and running until Friday 6 March, involves young people surviving for five days while spending no more than €5 a day for all their food and drink costs.

The rules of the challenge are as follows:

  • You may consume no more than €5 worth of food and drink per day (or €25 worth over five days). This includes all items you eat at home, in school, at friends, while out and about, etc. All items need to be accounted for.
  • All food taken from the fridge or from presses at home must be factored in, including things like salt, butter, jam, teabags, oil used for frying, etc.
  • You cannot accept donated ‘free’ food from others – you must calculate the cost of all items eaten.
  • If you are feeding a guest, such as a friend, a neighbour or a family member, you must include this in your budget, even if it is just a cup of tea and/or a biscuit.
  • The challenge should be taken within your family’s existing budget, not as a separate, additional cost to your family – ie participants may not ask for a €25 allowance to take the challenge.

“This will not be easy,” says SVP national president Kieran Stafford. “Participants will have to think about and calculate every item they consume. However, this is the reality of hundreds of thousands of people in Ireland every day.”

According to recent statistics, more than 428,000 people in Ireland go without adequate food on a regular basis. They miss meals and are not able to afford proper meals. Young people and single parents are consistently the most at-risk groups and are more likely to experience poverty than other groups.

The SVP has looked at what the typical cost of a weekly food basket is for different households.

The charity reckons that for a single adult, a weekly food basket that is both “realistic and acceptable” and “nutritionally adequate” costs in the region of €53, which would account for 27 per cent of the total income for a person dependent on state benefits.

For a two-parent family, with one child in primary and another child in secondary school, the weekly food bill is about €153, which would amount to a third of their total income if they were dependent on state benefits.

Overall, low-income households eat less well than those with a higher income, and low-income households are at a greater risk of experiencing diet-related diseases. Young SVP hopes the five-day exercise will open up many young people’s eyes to the realities of living on a low income. They also say to participants: if your family is having trouble making ends meet, contact the SVP for help.

To register for the Survive on Five challenge, email [email protected] for details.

All participants must have the agreement of their parents to take part. The Society of St Vincent de Paul is encouraging groups to take on the challenge together and to share their experiences, both positive and negative, throughout the week.

Follow us on Twitter @catholicireland

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,