HUNDREDS of Tearfund supporters are eating only rice, beans, and porridge for a week to raise money for people who are suffering from food shortages overseas.
Around 800 people have signed up to the Mean Bean Challenge, which commits them to eating just plain porridge at breakfast, and then plain beans with rice for both lunch and dinner.
The challenge highlights the subsistence-level diet of people in countries including Ethiopia, Malawi, South Sudan, and Kenya; it aims to raise money for the agency’s projects in these communities.
Carol Monaghan, the MP for Glasgow North West, is taking part in this year’s Challenge because, she says, it is a “really tangible way of connecting with the harsh realities of poverty that millions of people face every day”.
“I am sure living on so little food will be difficult for me but many people have no choice.” On Wednesday, Ms Monaghan she posted on Twitter a longing image of a colleague’s fruit and croissants at a breakfast meeting.
About £40,000 has been raised so far through sponsorship from those undertaking the Mean Bean Challenge.
Tearfund’s head of East and Southern Africa, Donald Mavunduse, said on Wednesday that the money would be spent supporting families who are struggling to feed themselves “in the long term, by providing essential farming training to help them produce more food, especially during period droughts”.
He added that it was important to encourage Tearfund beneficiaries to be active recipients, building resilience and developing skills so that they would not need to rely on future aid.
“Those who are participating [in the Challenge] will identify a little bit more with how people in the Global South who are struggling with food live,” he said. “And it’s also an opportunity for them to raise funds for this work.”
There was no particular figure Tearfund hoped to raise through the sponsorship, Mr Mavunduse said. “Apart from the financial resources, what we are really looking for is to raise the profile of those who are struggling with food.
“It’s not a new problem but it is one that needs to be constantly in the front of people’s minds, especially those who are willing and able to support them.”