Campus leaders accept challenge to eat on $1.50 a day

Inspired by a Global Poverty Project presentation on campus, the president of Western Carolina University’s Student Government Association and the wife of Chancellor David O. Belcher will eat off of $1.50 per day for five days.

To help raise awareness of global poverty, student TJ Eaves and Susan Brummell Belcher will participate in the Live Below the Line campaign beginning Monday, Oct. 24. Belcher and Eaves acknowledge the challenges ahead. “It will be a pretty interesting week because I am a fairly picky eater,” Eaves said. Belcher said she’d have to explore whether coffee with cream will fit in her budget. “If not, I’ll struggle with that one,” she said.

Nevertheless, they both look forward to the challenge. “Initially, I was concerned that this would be too tough and thought about whether or not I should do it,” said Eaves, a senior business administration and law major. But after reflecting on the number of individuals for whom poverty is a constant struggle, Eaves determined he was up to the challenge. “I know it will be tough, and I will be hungrier than normal, but that’s why it will be so beneficial personally,” he said. Eaves understands that five days won’t mean an in-depth understanding of what it is to live in poverty. “I just hope to walk away with a greater respect and awareness for those who do,” he said.

Participating in the challenge is a natural fit for Belcher, who after her husband’s appointment as new WCU chancellor designated herself a “WCU friend-raiser” and pledged to “wholeheartedly engage with students, faculty, staff, donors, alumni, community members and other constituent parties to create broad support for the WCU mission.”

For WCU students who wish to participate in the challenge, Aramark, WCU’s food service provider, will host a station in the upper level of the Courtyard Dining Hall with foods and portions that comply with the Live Below the Line initiative for breakfast, lunch and dinner on Thursday, Oct. 27.

While Belcher and Eaves have initiated the project primarily to raise awareness, Belcher does have a goal to raise money for CARE, a humanitarian organization fighting poverty in more than 70 countries around the world. Anyone interested in sponsoring them or joining their effort, including community members, can visit WCU’s Live Below the Line page online ( Updates on the effort will be available on the WCU Poverty Project Facebook page (

The Live Below the Line campaign allows for combining the five-day allowance for the purpose of food shopping before participation begins. A sample shopping list and eating plan is available online (

WCU is in the midst of a yearlong, campuswide, engaged learning initiative focused on poverty locally and beyond that is sponsoring many different poverty-related teaching, learning, service and scholarly and creative activities over the course of the year. (The WCU Poverty Project is online at As part of that initiative, Global Poverty Project CEO Hugh Evans spoke on campus in September, twice filling the Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center. He encouraged audience members to take part in the Live Below the Line campaign – an initiative of his organization – to raise awareness about extreme poverty, which his organization defines as existing on less than $1.25 a day and projects affects 1.4 billion people worldwide.