Send a Cow Head of Communications, Jane Futrell, tells us why she'll be Living Below the Line from April 27, and why you should too!

I have just started working for Send a Cow in the Communications team. I love the fact that the charity’s proven approach to sustainable farming has already helped over 1m people out of poverty and it has ambitious plans to help millions more. By working alongside families in rural Africa the charity gives people the hope and the means to build their own futures through sustainable farming, and it is transforming lives.

Over a very short time families are eating regular meals and selling produce which means they can buy more nourishing food, build more robust homes with better sanitation - which in turn reduces illness - and pay for their children’s education. It also means fewer people trying to scratch a living in shantytowns on the edge of cities.

But there are so many people to help and so many people making choices few of us in the UK or anywhere in Europe ever have to think about; not just can I personally afford to eat today, but which of my children or grandchildren goes without food today too?

Send a Cow has decided to use its Live Below the Line campaign to help Burundi - which is the hungriest country in the world. Eight out of 10 people are living below the official poverty line of £1 a day and there are lots of families desperate to work with us.

But just thinking about this challenge has been sobering for me. I now realise just how much I take the ready availability of food for granted. I shop quite carefully and have always worried about air miles, supporting local farmers, buying Fairtrade, eating seasonally, avoiding packaging and reducing food waste. But I have never thought for a moment how ludicrous some of my spending is set against what others’ can afford.

Now I know it’s not a true comparison on costs and food availability in Burundi, but the one-off deli sandwich at £3.50, the cinema pick and mix sweets at £2.70 and the 60p chocolate bar I bought without thinking when I paid for petrol, adds up. That’s £6.80 right there – a family of seven could eat for day. A child for over week. Suddenly every purchase decision I make is being weighed up.

In an ideal world, people like me, Living Below the Line for five days by planning menus, raising sponsorship and donating to Send a Cow. But I appreciate not everyone can, or should commit to such a radical diet shake-up, but there are other ways you can help. You can try having a “lite” day, organise a fundraising lunch or dinner or donate what you would spend on a weekly shop or your weekly treats. There are lots of ideas on the charity’s website, including a schools challenge and a fundraising day for offices. 

For my part I am going to Live Below the Line and donate what I would normally spend on food and drink over the five days. And I am encouraging all my friends, neighbours and even former colleagues to do the same.

I think my heart and my waistline are going to benefit - and yours could too!

Sign up to Live Below the Line or donate whatever you can today