Ben Affleck to ‘Live Below the Line’ with Food Budget of $1.50 per Day

Oscar winner Ben Affleck’s next project is a challenge aimed at raising money and awareness for global poverty.

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From left: Ben Affleck and George Clooney at the 85th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, Calif., on February 24, 2013.
Steve Granitz / WireImage

From left: Ben Affleck and George Clooney at the 85th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood, Calif., on February 24, 2013.

Oscar winner Ben Affleck’s next project is a challenge aimed at raising money and awareness for global poverty. Next week, the star of “Argo” and “Good Will Hunting” is joining thousands of others around the world by living on $1.50 a day.

Live Below the Line bills itself as “a campaign that’s challenging the way people in the U.S. think about poverty — and making a huge difference.” The group’s Facebook page recently announced that Ben Affleck would be participating in this year’s Live Below the Line challenge, which requires participants to feed themselves on no more than $1.50 per day for five days next week, from April 29 to May 3.

The purpose of the challenge is to open eyes up to the reality that 1.4 billion of our fellow human beings on earth live below the extreme poverty line, currently estimated by the World Bank to be the equivalent of roughly $1.50 per day in the U.S. Last year, more than 15,000 people participated in the challenge, raising over $3 million in the process. More than 20,000 people are expected to participate this year, and Affleck is not the only celebrity on board.

(MORE: What’s Behind Newark Mayor Cory Booker’s Food Stamp Challenge?)

A couple of weeks ago, it was announced that this year’s participants would include singer Josh Groban, actress Sophia Bush, and celebrity chefs Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos. This won’t be the first time Groban takes on the challenge. “Taking on this challenge last year was such a humbling experience for me, and I was so proud and heartened by my fans that joined me,” Groban said in a released statement. He even wrote a song inspired by the challenge for his new album. “I wanted to capture this in Below the Line, which was inspired by this experience. It’s amazing how much we take for granted not having to live in hunger, and I am honored to have been asked to help spread the word about this eye-opening campaign again this year.”

Now, Affleck, this year’s champ at the Academy Awards, is joining the cause as well.

A set of guidelines advises celebrities and everyday people how to take part in the challenge and not cheat. Your total five-day food bill shouldn’t go over $7.50, and you’re not supposed to rummage through the pantry for snacks, unless you factor how much the items cost into your total. Drinking lots of tap water is advised, and there’s no need to calculate how much it costs or add that into your budget.

(MORE: How to Live on a Dollar a Day)

Produce from your backyard garden is fair game, though complicated: “You can use food sourced from your garden as long as you can account for the price of production!”

37 comments
pencilsandpens
pencilsandpens

@ChikuMisra   It would make no sense for him to reference rupees or any other foreign currency because he is trying to appeal to Americans and get their money.  Then later that aid is supposed to go where needed in whatever form appropriate. Also, the world does revolve around the U.S. because although we have some SERIOUS moral, economic and now safety issues, we are still considered a world power. Whether you agree or not, what happens over here affects the world---good or bad. My statements are not coming from some place of extreme patriotism (although I do adore my country) but is the simple truth. God Bless!

CaroleBusick
CaroleBusick

I heard this non-sense on the radio this morning and I had to see it for myself. If these Hollywood morons fell guilty about have too much money they need to keep it to themselves, we don't need to hear every time these idiots want to support a cause. And you dumb asses believe this BS! If they want to pay more in taxes, drive a stupid Prius, end hunger or band firearms I don't care. I guarantee that next to the Prius in their garage is a Lamborghini, after living "below the line" they will spend $500+ on food and drinks and not break a sweat. Stop supporting these idiots! Stop watching their dumb movies! Keep your money in you own pocket, stop supporting these idiots and send them "below the line"!   

Joshua619
Joshua619

To clarify the $1.50 (US) is in purchasing power, so it is adjusted accordingly in each country for the amount of actual goods not the actual exchange rate, the Live Below the Line website has a lot more details in how the UN determines who is living in extreme poverty.  Eating on just $1.50 a day for 5 days isn't going to suddenly change the world as we know it.  I'm planning on doing the challenge to raise a greater awareness in my eating habits, to see how well I can balance out my meals with just $7.50 to spend for the 5 days, and for me, even researching the different partnered non-profit organizations is encouraging to see what efforts are being made to address global problems.  If I have to hear about a celebrity I'd much rather how they're working on improving the world instead of their latest relationship, addiction problem, etc. etc.  

ChikuMisra
ChikuMisra

I applaud the spirit of what they doin. However, I don't really understand it. For example, a buck fifty is about fifty rupees a day in India. That will truly by a ton of food. Why do they always put it in dollar terms. The world does not revolve around u.s, secondly a buck fifty or fifty rupees a day is a fortune in India and will buy a very healthy amount of meat, chips, milk, fruit and whatever, every day.

aanaway
aanaway

I think what they are trying to do is awesome. So many people do their best to find EVERY negative thing they can to step on what folks try to do. Whether what they do is a small part or a large part. It is a part. Shut the heck up and give them a round of applause. They are in a position where people listen to them and it may put a fire under some folks to perhaps do this or even more. Even if it is just one person. What are you doing? If you are doing more I applaud you are well. I do my part. What it is, is none of your business because I do it for me and my family. I do it for our society as well.  If my mom were still alive she could tell you have to live on a $1.50 a day. We did it all growing up. I have done it it plenty in times of my adult life too. Today I do things because I choose to, not because I have to. So once again, I applaud you Ben. Don't listen to the folks that have to find everything wrong about this., teh naysayers. They are just miserable folks that have to find the darkside of everything. I hope they are not my neighbors. I would not want them there if some disaster strikes! They would be the ones that fall apart and whine about everything. lol

RuthHilditch
RuthHilditch

Okay, he isn't doing the biggest thing ever. We all admit that. He would say that. He isn't making the biggest effect ever. But, do you know what? He is doing SOMETHING. That is better than sitting back and criticising people trying to have some kind of effect on Global Poverty.

Hadrewsky
Hadrewsky

$1:50  Goes A LOT FARTHER in other nations.... doing it in the US is like living like a starving peasant .... perhaps humbling but also perhaps inaccurate.

schware1
schware1

I think $1.50 goes way farther in India or Africa than say, Pacific Palisades.  

mrbofus
mrbofus

Are they really living on $1.50 a day?  That means no driving, no wearing the clothes they previously purchased, no using electricity or water or gas that would cut into their food budget, etc...right?

Otherwise, it's not much of a challenge.  The Below the Line website just says you have to deduct food costs, but mentions nothing about how you're to calculate the cost of getting the food.  Driving to the grocery store alone would cost more than $1.50 in gas, much less depreciation costs on the car.

I get that they are lending their celebrity to the cause to raise awareness and that's great.  But if they're not going to be accurate about the challenge they're doing, that diminishes the legitimacy of the organization.

mmscsmi
mmscsmi

I'm sorry, but these people are a bunch of morons. Obviously they feei like they need to lose some weight, maybe for their next movie payday. Why don't they give $1.50 a day to the people that really need it.

Jeannette
Jeannette

Good on him actually trying to raise awareness and funds around this important issue- at least he's doing something, and not complaining unlike half the commenters on this page. I've never seen so much hate and complaining on such an important issue as global poverty! And if being a celebrity means that he's used to a luxurious or very comfortable lifestyle, then wouldn't it be more of a challenge to take up something like this?  I don't see anyone else saying that they're inspired to jump on board here.  The point isn't to say that you've lived through extreme poverty or pretend that you truly understand what people go through everyday- it's to offer a personal glimpse into the lives of 1.2billion who suffer through extreme poverty everyday.  There are good intentions behind this campaign (and in fact, I'm taking it on this year) so I do not understand why there is so much questioning and criticism. I'd like to see half of you do all the things that you suggest he does- like live beneath an underpass, and walk to work, and cook off a fire and live on <$1.50USD a day. I know there's no way I could, and I've taken so many things in my life for granted I can't even begin to fathom what it's really like.  If living on $1.50 is as easy as so many of you say, then I'd challenge you to take on LBL too- at least then you're doing something to help alleviate people out of poverty. 

ClarkBennett
ClarkBennett

Well, good for him. And no it doesn't include the cost of cooking the food and isn't even relevant to the discussion.  I've lived off a box of instant oatmeal for breakfast, a case of Ramen noodles for lunch and 10 for $10.00 boxed meals for dinner several times in my life without the assistants of food stamps and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.  I feel very fortunate to have found a  job that pays a living wage and provides health insurance so I don't have to live that way anymore. 

JohnHillman
JohnHillman

Does this include the cost to prepare the food? How is he going to cook it? What is he going to cook it in?

Phoney Baloney Hollywood BS!!!

NeerajKaushlendra
NeerajKaushlendra

Meh... Its a cakewalk if you are prepared to eat 2 loafs of white bread ($0.99 each) and a whole marinated roasted chicken ($4.99). It leaves you 7% for tax as well and will last you 5 days, 3 meals a day...

smfwrites
smfwrites

Nice gesture but homeless people in the US can panhandle a lot more than a buck-fifty a day. Where's he going to sleep, a homeless shelter? Despite the negative comments about celebs, they can bring needed attention to social problems. But try to do something a bit more meaningful - try living a month on the US federal poverty level, about $800-$900/mo.

stowevt024
stowevt024

Another Hollywood star who feels the tremendous guilt of getting paid millions to do nothing.  All hollywood stars, much like most singers & pro-athletes, knowthat if they were to be wiped off the face of the Earth today 99.999999999% of the population of the entire globe would not give a rat's patootey.  Affleck, like his wife, is nothing but a self-righteous, pretentious primma-donna.  Try living on $1.50 a day for a couple of years and then lets talk.  If it was legal I would take a baseball bat to him and all his pals. 

DavidBell
DavidBell

Does the $1.50 per day include the cost of his personal chef to prepare the tasty morsels?

CaseyPunchy
CaseyPunchy

good on him, now if he wants to really prove a point, he'll go to india and live with the people and starve for, say....... a whole month or two

DarwinAkbar
DarwinAkbar

It is a good thing that he is raising awareness to poverty. But this is not a realistic exercise:

1. Where will he be staying during those 5 days? Is he going to hang out in his multimillion dollar mansion and just refrain from eating? Or does that entail living like people in the Third World.

2. Different countries have different purchasing powers. $1.50 in a Third World country would actually stretch much further than in the US, which is all but impossible unless you don't eat. You have to take purchasing power into account.

james.goller
james.goller

Great that he's lending his name to raise awareness. But the challenge in and of itself is pretty weak. I once fasted for an entire week. Five days with $7.50 to spend on food sounds more like a Hollywood fad diet. The challenge should be longer, and include everything. $45 for the month, to cover all living expenses. That's the reality of life in the 3rd world.  

Mr.T-Bone
Mr.T-Bone

Wow Mr. Affleck.. 5 whole days!! Ghandi thinks you're crazy. (if you're picking up the sarcasm... good... i'm laying it on pretty thick)

mbr4831
mbr4831

Yeah that'll help... F all the liberal morons doing idiotic crap like this. I work 6 days a week, pay taxes and raise my kids. It's not my fault, or the fact it cost's a load more than $7.50 a day to feed myself, wife and 3 kids that governments destroy their countries and terrorize the people. If all these clowns think that money is the problem, then donate every penny you have to a country and see if it helps.

IneffAble
IneffAble

Cool. I think i'll try $1.50 too. Oh wait. But, seeing as how no public transport goes out to my work place, I guess $1.50 will be used for gas instead of food... Then my performance at work will suffer, and I'll probably get fired.  So, actually... I guess the only way to do this challenge is to be a jobless hippy or millionaire actor.

thehouseoffreedom
thehouseoffreedom

@Hadrewsky I don't think you seem to be very familiar with global poverty issues. The $1.50 a day is an estimate of equivalency and doesn't necessarily mean $1.50 of US currency if that were to be converted into local currency. And by the way, most of the people that live off of this can usually only afford rice and perhaps an egg or two, which is pretty much all you could buy in the U.S. for $1.50. "$1.50 a day" to live off in Indonesian for example isn't like having $20 a day here if that's what you're thinking.  

PixiePoe123
PixiePoe123

@mmscsmi I've done the challenge several times, never for weight loss. Perhaps if you had bothered to actually look at the challenge, you would have seen that they are also raising money for different charities by doing the challenge. 

PixiePoe123
PixiePoe123

@Jeannette The people who gripe about others doing something to make a difference are the ones who sit back and do nothing. Don't let it get to you :).

PixiePoe123
PixiePoe123

@JohnHillman If you check out the Live Below the Line website, you will see that the $1.50 a day is for food only.

JohnHillman
JohnHillman

@NeerajKaushlendra 4 ounces of chicken per meal means you need a chicken that YIELDS 5 1/4 ounces of meat. That requires a 9 pound chicken. At 1.99/# that chicken costs $18. If you can find it for $1.49 /# it still costs $13.50. The "budget" for the week is $10.50.

Rice and beans my friend, rice and beans.


JohnHillman
JohnHillman

@smfwrites How about the $250 people get from the Food Stamp programs? Or the GIANT $20 they get for the WHOLE SEASON to buy at Farmer's Markets?

Jeannette
Jeannette

@stowevt024 

have you lived on  $1.50 a day for several years? 

If not, don't talk. 

I haven't, but I don't pretend to have or pretend I truly understand what it's like to live in extreme poverty.  (I can only imagine, and sympathise with their plight)

And if you have, then I respect what you've been through. 

drumattica
drumattica

@DarwinAkbar Number one is just what I wondered... is he going to live under a freeway overpass or in a slum for a week? I'm thinking not.

smfwrites
smfwrites

Trying to live is about more than eating, though agreed $250/mo isn't much for SNAP. it's also about shelter - how do you find a place to live when you have lousy credit, a minimum wage job and the housing assistance list is about 5 years long? How do you afford a bus pass to get to your lousy job, let alone job interviews. How do you have energy and resources to better yourself when just trying to keep it together day to day takes everything you've got?  Compared to that, just eating on $1.50 a day is easy.

MtW42
MtW42

@smfwrites  

You are so right. Added to your list of challenges is that bus service may not be available during the actual hours or days many people need it most. Many buses don't run at all on Sundays. Also, many hourly wage earners must be available "on call" and may be considered unreliable without a car--which circles back to all those other issues mentioned in the article and in the comments.