Ben Affleck pledges to live on $1.50 a day for a week - Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 25 April 2013

As one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, Ben Affleck is reportedly worth a massive $65 million (£42 million). But the actor has pledged to spend five days living on just $1.50 a day to raise awareness of poverty.


Ben Affleck pledges to live on $1.50 a day for a week

Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 25 April 2013


By Stephen Exley

As one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, Ben Affleck is reportedly worth a massive $65 million (£42 million). But the actor has pledged to spend five days living on just $1.50 a day to raise awareness of poverty.

He is taking part in the Live Below the Line awareness campaign run by the Global Poverty Project, an education and campaigning organisation working to tackle extreme poverty across the world.

It says that 1.4 billion people have no choice but to live below the poverty line every day, and is working with other charities to recruit celebrities to promote the cause.

Actors such as Hugh Jackman, Sophia Bush and Tom Hiddleston have already backed the campaign, but Affleck – star of films such as Good Will Hunting and Armageddon and director of the Oscar-winning Argo – is the most high profile individual to get on board so far. He made the announcement via his Twitter account (@BenAffleck) on Monday.

While $1.50 doesn’t go very far in the US – the Daily Mail points out that it would barely cover a small coffee from Starbucks at 95¢ and a 50¢ can of kidney beans – the campaign website suggests a meal plan, with several previous participants having opted to stock up on staples such as rice, beans, pasta and potatoes at the start of the week to last for the five-day period. The tight budget is unlikely to stretch to “luxuries” such as meat and vegetables.

And if Affleck is thinking of raiding the cupboards at his palatial mansion to get out of trouble, he’ll have to think again. “You can’t grab a snack from the pantry unless you include the cost of buying the item new in your budget,” the Live Below the Line website stresses.

Affleck is hoping to generate publicity for his own charity, the Eastern Congo Initiative, which aims to support people living in the impoverished African country of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Speaking about his charity work, Affleck says: “I got to a point in my life where I felt like I had been very fortunate. And I wanted to do something more with my life than just make movies and try to make money.”

Affleck could be setting a good example for Iain Duncan Smith, the British secretary of state for work and pensions. Last month, he claimed that he would be able to live on the relatively princely sum of £53 a week, or £7.57 a day, as some people on benefits have to. “If I had to, I would,” he told the BBC’s Today programme.

But despite almost 475,000 people signing an online petition calling for him to live on this budget for one year, he has so far refused. Perhaps Affleck’s efforts will inspire him to take up the challenge.

Questions for discussion or further research:

  • What is the 'poverty line'?
  • We live in a world of plenty, yet there are still people who struggle to get enough to eat. Why do you think this is?
  • What effect do you think celebrity involvement might have on a project like this?
  • Ben Affleck hopes to promote the work of his charity, the Eastern Congo Initiative. What causes are important to you and how could you raise awareness about them?

Resources for you


Hunger in a world of plenty

  • Why do 1 billion people go to bed hungry? Explore this question and more with an assembly pack from TES partner Christian Aid.

Images of poverty

  • Use this PowerPoint lesson to prompt a debate on the causes and effects of poverty.

World food crisis

  • An extensive lesson pack to help students understand the current world food crisis.

Fame and celebrity

  • Get students to consider fame and celebrity and the impact famous people can have on our lives.


Further news resources


First News front page

  • Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.

Write all about it

  • Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.

What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

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