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Students pledge to live on poverty budget

May 12, 2014 — 

Can you make a meal for less than the price of a large double double at Tim Hortons? Ten U of M students found out.

From April 28 until May 2, a team of students pledged to eat and drink on a budget of only $1.75 a day — they had to price the individual ingredients in every meal to ensure they didn’t exceed their budget.

It was part of the Live Below the Line campaign, an international movement to raise awareness of poverty and support anti-poverty initiatives.

Sanjana Vijayann, a second year Faculty of Arts student, organized the campaign on campus.

“This is the first year that Winnipeg has taken part,” noted Vijayann. “Our team members ranged from international students who have grown up in poverty in their home country, to an Asper [School of Business] student who has been involved with micro-loans, and more.”

The U of M Students Union (UMSU) outgoing vice-president internal, Amanda McMullin [BA (Adv)/13], participated in the campaign for personal reasons.

“I think it’s important to realize that there are people who are living below the line in our own city,” McMullin said. “I have a friend who recently became homeless — he sometimes has to hang out in stores because he has nowhere to go at night and has to search for food.

“I think it’s really important to recognize that this is happening in our own backyard, and I’d like to explore learning more about that with our team.”

McMullin lived on a very tight budget when she was undergraduate student, and said the campaign is very close to the reality of some students with student loans and minimum wage jobs.

“People living on $1.75 don’t have access to proper nutrition that they’re supposed to have — you’re eating pasta all the time, and don’t have any meat in your diet,” Vijayann said. As the campaign points out, poor nutrition reduces someone’s ability to concentrate and learn, as well as his or her mood and overall health.

Resources are available on campus for U of M students who are experiencing poverty or financial difficulties. Students can use UMSU’s food bank or apply for financial assistance from UMSU for help via the “hardship fund.”

The team hopes to raise $2,000 in support of Results Canada, a charity that supports anti-poverty initiatives, by the end of the campaign. To donate to the campaign, visit


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