Starting today, for one week, several dozen CSU students will fight the temptations of fast food, grocery stores and dining halls in favor of a diet of rice, beans and other low-budget items to raise awareness about the prominence of hunger throughout the world.
As participants in the student-created program, known as “Seven Dollars for Seven Days,” students are challenged to survive an entire week on no more than $7 worth of food.
The challenge is intended to give college students an opportunity to experience firsthand the struggles of approximately 1 billion people worldwide who live off of less than $1 per day, according to fliers distributed by the group.
Participants are not allowed to accept free food from friends or take food from dormitory dining halls and can only eat food purchased with their $7.
All other food sources are considered benefits of living in a rich country — benefits that the world’s poor do not have.
“It’s not just about starving yourself for a week. It’s about being aware of how much we consume,” senior natural resources major Joanna Harter said.
Harter and several other students who call themselves the Difference Project organized this year’s challenge — the fourth of its kind on the CSU campus –/in the creator’s absence.
CSU senior Travis Hall, who is studying abroad this semester, and a fellow classmate created “Seven dollars for Seven Days” in 2006 when they had to brainstorm a topic for their honors seminar. They decided Americans lead far too lavish lifestyles and devised a hands-on exploration of hunger.
Between 25 and 75 students are expected to participate this year, Harter said. Some have conquered the challenge in years past, but others are new to the experience.
“It sounds better than it actually will be,” senior social work major Lauren Dixon said. Dixon will be attempting the challenge for the first time this year.
Dixon hopes to weather the seven days on a diet consisting mostly of beans and tortillas, a choice that minimizes costs while maximizing proteins.
“From what I’ve figured out, that’s the cheapest, healthiest way of doing it.”
Jennifer Glen, a sophomore human development major, is also attempting the program for the first time this year. Though Glen has stocked up on peanut butter and jelly, saltines and muffin mix, she has some apprehension about going without a healthy diet for seven days.
“Having food in my room, I know it’s going to be a challenge to avoid that,” Glen said.
Glen is undertaking the challenge to better understand the environment of her impoverished niece and nephew, who live in Uganda, she said.
Many will celebrate completing the challenge by participating in the fifth annual, Oct. 15 Hunger Banquet, an annual dinner hosted by CSU’s Office of International Programs, intended to promote hunger awareness on campus.
All proceeds from the event –/tickets are a meal swipe at any dining hall, or $6 cash, check or charge, at CSU’s Palmer Center –/will go to benefit Oxfam America, an international relief and development organization dedicated to eradicating poverty and hunger.
The two events are not directly related, but are ultimately pursuing the same goals, International Program Coordinator Shauna DeLuca said.
“Some people don’t know what it’s like to go hungry, so that’s a valuable lesson in itself.”
Senior Reporter Matt Minich can be reached at email@example.com.