EAST AURORA, N.Y. -- The Rural Outreach Center in East Aurora wanted to raise awareness for poverty in Western New York.

Rather than ask for monetary donations, they asked public figures to experience some of the challenges people in poverty deal with.

"What's it feel like to get have to get by on $6.36 a day, what's it feel like, especially in a rural area to not have your own transportation or to keep your heat low because you can't afford fuel," said Rural Outreach Center Executive Director Frank Cerny. 

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz was the first to accept the challenge.

“They challenged me to spend no more than $6.36 a day on food for the whole week and I will say this, I am eating less than I usually do,” said Poloncarz.

He says he used his entire budget for the week, approximately $44.52 on one trip to the grocery store.

"I ended up spending $44.47, but I had to put a number of items back on the shelf that I wanted to buy that I just couldn’t afford. It was an eye-opening experience that I normally would have bought that I probably would have bought more just as much, but I’m trying to ensure I that I had enough food on my table for a whole week,” said Poloncarz.  

Every week of January, a new public figure will take on a different challenge, including only using public transportation, limiting your wardrobe to two outfits and limiting their heating and electricity use.

The goal is to eliminate public stigmas about poverty.

"'Well they've made bad decisions, they need to live with it', some of that is true, of course. But it's tough, it's really tough when you don't have alternatives. You don't [have] opportunities that we kind of take for granted," said Cerny. 

"It’s not as glamorous as some people think, for those who receive public assistance. And it’s not easy to put a good quality meal on the table. It goes to show the difficulties that many people in poverty face," said Poloncarz. 

You can track the progress of Poloncarz and the other participants by searching #ROCResolutions on Twitter.