Marketing & Communications
The Falcon Hunger Challenge - Nicolas Doyle
Now that the challenge is over and I have had time to reflect, I would like to share some thoughts. Firstly, the challenge was significantly more difficult than I had anticipated. I thought that since I’d dealt with hunger, even intense hunger, in the past, that it would be a breeze. It most definitely was not.
Obviously the physical hunger aspect of the challenge itself was not easy. Tuesday was a rough day involving headaches and nausea. Overall, throughout the week, I felt a noticeable drop in energy levels, and some intense fatigue.
Eating is a very social activity, and I also saw lots of clashes with my social life and my restricted food budget. All of the "fun" of eating was sort of lost as well. Meaning the variety of things I could eat and all the flavors I’m so accustomed to were very hard to obtain. Microwaving baked potatoes was much less enjoyable with nothing to season them. I was also forced to pick a few basic food options and try to make them last for days at a time, something I don’t normally do.
Having to preserve food and make it last also made me realize how wasteful I was. When I had to try to make things last to save money, it took serious effort. For example, one small thing was when I bought a cup of tea on Monday and re-used the same paper cup all week, instead of tossing the cup as soon as I was done.
A final, possibly unrelated effect, is that I have fallen sick in the past week. This is purely conjecture to suggest that there may be a link between my poor diet and lack of immune system, but I would just like to put the information out there. Going into Thanksgiving later this week, I will definitely be reflecting back on my challenge and the difficulties I faced from just one week on $33. It’s hard to think about, but I would like all of you reading this to try to imagine the feeling of hunger, the restrictions that would be placed on your social life, the loss of spice and flavor, all that you would live if you were forced into this situation for life. So while you’re eating your festive meals, think what it would be like if you had had to prepare such a meal on such a small budget. Be thankful, and if you can, give.
Thursday, Nov. 8
Still doing well, and at the end of the day, I have still not spent a penny since Tuesday. However, after the third microwaved baked potato, I can honestly say that I find it hard to even look at them. The overall variety of flavor and enjoyment of my eating habits has dropped steeply. I’m literally dreaming of cookies. One of the most reoccurring situations I have found myself in is friends offering to buy me a meal, or a coffee, or a cookie - anything. It’s almost as if they are more eager to buy for me than I am to actually receive their secret food offerings. Temptation reared its ugly head today in the form of an offer of lunch at El Zarape. The hardest decision of my life was having to say no. My peanut butter is running low, I’m down to eight slices of bread, and the nuggets are barely hanging in there. I still have $10, so a shopping trip tomorrow may be in the cards. It’ll be Friday, so who knows, maybe I’ll get crazy and buy something flavorful.
Another social situation presented itself today when in order to accommodate dinner plans on campus, a friend actually went to a grocery store on campus and bought Bagel Bites so we could eat together and not have to worry about affording to eat out. The peanut butter and jelly has switched from being thought of as a meal to more of a "dessert" in a weird sense. It’s the most sugary thing I’ve got right now. I’m desperate. I’m hungry. And although not as severe as Tuesday’s episode, I definitely feel an overall marked decrease in energy levels. Where I used to wake up daily around 7 or 7:30 a.m., this week, I’ve been sleeping until my alarm for class at 11:30 a.m. I think I can do this, but getting something indulgent tomorrow will be essential. The grand total still sits at $23.83.
Tuesday, Nov. 6
This is harder than I thought. Today, the impact of the word "challenge" really hit me. Well, so did the hunger portion of it. The plan of not spending any money at all today? That flat out failed. I had been naively, although happily, surviving on $8 worth of ramen noodles and PB&J, when, on the night of the International Education Week event that I was hosting, I was hit by a strong wave of nausea and intense headache. I tried hydrating with more water and tea (from the same paper cup I bought on Monday and have been reusing), and after lying down for almost two hours with no results, was feeling thoroughly depleted and faint. The level of fatigue in my muscles was possibly the highest I’ve ever experienced. This all seems possibly dramatic, but considering the normal food intake of a 6’2 20 year old college student, not to mention the drastic drop in nutrition, it all makes sense. I want to stress how quickly this set in and how it interfered with my ability to function. I called a friend and had to make an emergency trip, this time to Aldi, to buy more sustainable foods. The shopping list today included bananas, rice, a five pound sack of potatoes, beans, chicken nuggets, pizza rolls, and two cans of tuna. Totaling in at $12.17.
Grand total so far, $23.83. I have just under $10 left. Now that I have well balanced food, I’m not intending to spend anything tomorrow. For real this time.
Monday, Nov. 5
Day 1 - My strategy going into this challenge was the classic “don’t prepare and just dive in” technique that I use for so many other important events in my college life. This left me making an emergency trip to Kroger this morning to buy food. I’m trying to buy of food in increments, because if I were to spend all $33 at once, I know I would eat it all immediately and be done for by Wednesday. So here is what made the list:
- Ramen Noodle 12 Pack - $2.69
- Ramen Noodle Cup - $0.29
- Kroger Bread - $1.00
- Kroger Grape Jelly - $1.69
- Kroger Peanut Butter - $2.49
You can infer the situation completely from this. All I have eaten today has been PB&J and ramen. Well.... not entirely. Surprisingly quickly, the social pressures have already come into effect and taken their toll. After eating a dinner of ramen and PB&J, I was with friends when the idea to go to Pinkberry to get (delicious) frozen yogurt was thrown out. Everybody was in agreement. Everybody but me. Eating on campus during this week will mean instant failure. The peer pressure and promise of frozen delights was too much however, and I caved and went. I did get the smallest size they offer - a mini. Subtract $3.50.
That brings the total of the day to $11.66.
Day 1 seems to suggest that this is possible, but it will take some serious effort and even more serious willpower. Especially in the face of anything with the word “hazelnut” in the name. My goal for tomorrow is to not spend a penny. Stay tuned.
Sunday, Nov. 4
Getting down to it, poverty and hunger are real and huge problems here in Ohio - bigger than most of us like to realize. To some of you, this may seem a huge, personal shock, as Ohio is your home. To others, out-of-towners like myself, it puts things into perspective. If the situation is so bad in Ohio, yet so low under the radar, how many others are going hungry in other cities, states, and countries that go unnoticed?
This very idea prompted me to do some research of my own. What is the truth about my own home city? For purposes of relativity, I'll say it's Rochester, New York. Here's what I found: "New York has the highest poverty rate of all the northern states."
Not so surprising when you think that New York City is included in that statement, right? Well, in Rochester alone, a staggering 29.1 percent of the population lives below the poverty line according a 2007 Census Bureau survey - that's over 56,000 people.
Now that I've put you in my position, really think about it. That's a significant percentage of a population to be living below the poverty line, and being that it's from another state, not something you'd probably look into or hear about over here. Just really think about it.
That is what I'm trying to do. Most of us could not imagine what it's like to go hungry and not be able to afford even the cheapest latte on the Starbucks menu.
Of course, assuming the role of living on a $33 budget for a week cannot even come close to comprehending such a reality, but it's a start. I want to visualize it, and I hope you will too.
I should also point out that I really have no clue what to expect. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I really live only to eat and go to class just to pass the time between meals. Not to mention, proudly have the biggest sweet tooth in the tri-state area.
In short, I hope that you'll read my posts and live this week with me as much as possible. I will be very explicitly detailing every food craving, frustration, and regret.
Visualize with me, think about it, and hopefully from some thought, we can create action.