This post was sponsored by Y-USA as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central.
When I first learned about the food desert challenge I wondered what my family and I would do if we could not easily get to any grocery store for the best deal or healthier foods. Then I remembered we once were very poor with no car, and the nearest store was 2 to 3 miles away. We took a lot of buses everywhere but mostly did a lot of walking, because we could not always afford the bus. When times are tough you have to do what you have to do, and it does not matter how much you hate it, we had no other choice. Many times when we had no money for food we would have to walk to the bus stop that wasn’t just around the corner either. Then take a 45 min bus ride to transfer to another bus that was 20 more minutes, just to go to the nearest food bank so we could eat for a few more days. Many nights we ate Ramen noodles, hot dogs, bread, or pancakes. because that’s all we could afford or all we received from the food bank.
So after hearing about the food desert challenge I felt like I could easily do this with no problem. The Food Desert Challenge is only spending only $5 a day per family member for breakfast, lunch and dinner for 3 full days, to demonstrate the challenges many families in food deserts face each day. Many times I think our budget was less than that. Well it’s tougher than I thought now that we follow an Alkaline Electric lifestyle, and our food choices are much different than before. We rely on 90% fruits and vegetables and the other 10% are spices, flour etc. After much calculating I found for this to work for my family a portion of my budget would have to go to a round trip on the public transportation in order to go to the local fruit stand or grocery store. Plus we would need to make a 4 mile walk to the dollar store for flour and oil, because the bus does not go thier.
During summer break, many families get to enjoy a more relaxed schedule. But sadly there are so many families who rely on school meal programs such as the free breakfast and lunch to ensure their child eats hopefully three square meals a day. For those who rely on these programs it can be very challenging to find extra money in the budget to cover breakfast, lunch, and dinner for everyone in the home during summer break.
To help raise awareness for the Y’s Summer Food Program, I decided to participate in the Food Desert Challenge for 3 full days for a family of 5, to demonstrate the challenges many families face throughout the country. For this to work as Alkaline Electric’s we had to take money out of our food budget for public transportation to get to the local fruit stand.
This is a fruit stand we visit once a week, because we already have a small budget, and these prices are much cheaper than the grocery store and the items come from local farmers. At the fruit stand we purchased apples, zucchini, onions, peppers, tomatoes, avocados, butternut squash, mushrooms, lettuce, kale and 1 key lime. Plus we made a visit to the dollar store for flour, oil, bread, spices, pasta and oatmeal. Some items we could not get the brand we needed and wanted.
I was able to get what I hoped was enough food to feed us breakfast, lunch and dinner for 3 days. After looking at the food when I got home I realized I was going to be using a lot of a couple of the items to make this work. Plus oatmeal for breakfast for the next 3 days.
Our 3 days of the Food Desert Challenge for a family of 5:
Breakfast – Oatmeal with apple slices.
Lunch – Large Vegetable Patties made with peppers, onions, kale, mushrooms, flour and a couple spices. Topped with Guacamole made with onions, tomatoes and seasoned with salt and lime (lacking some spices, but still tasted good).
Dinner – Saute’d Butternut Squash and onions. Season with salt. Battered and fried mushrooms. Flour was season with oregano and salt.
Breakfast – Oatmeal with apple slices.
Lunch – Leftover Vegetable Patties made into burgers. In between to slices of bread, lettuce, tomatoes, onions made with peppers, onions, kale, mushrooms, flour and a couple spices. For sauce more Guacamole made with onions, tomatoes and seasoned with salt and lime (lacking some spices, but still tasted good).
Dinner – Creamy Vegetable Soup made with onion, mushrooms, kale, butternut squash, peppers, zucchini, flour, water, pasta and seasoning.
Breakfast – Oatmeal with apple slices
Lunch – Left over Creamy Vegetable soup.
Dinner – Saute’d zucchini, kale, peppers and onions. Seasoned with salt and oregano. Butternut squash, saute’d with onions, mushrooms and peppers. Season with salt.
Budget: $75 at $5 a day per person for a family of 5.
Total Spent: $74.82 ($8 taken off the top for public transportation to the fruit stand if I lived in a food desert). We drove to the store, however we did still take the $8 off the budget.
During the 3 days we did this. I found sometimes it was hard to season the food the way I wanted, because I only had limited spices. I didn’t like the flour, bread, oil, oatmeal and pasta I had to use, because it was not Alkaline. However everything was 90% fresh fruits and vegetables. Maybe with a few tweaks to the budget I could have purchase a couple of the items I truly wanted, or made a couple different recipes. Also there was not enough food for snacks unless you didn’t finish a meal. However thankfully no one went to bed hungry. Breakfast was trying. Not everyone enjoys oatmeal very much, but that’s all there was and this is a challenge we agreed to take. I challenge my readers to take the Food Desert Challenge. and if you do please share with me. In an effort to drive more support and awareness of the Y’s Summer Food Program, the Y created the Food Desert Challenge. Participation in the challenge aims to elevate the public discussion of year-round child hunger and how the Y addresses this issue.
Can you eat healthy on a tight budget? Yes! Can you eat Vegan on a tight budget? Absolutely! Can you eat Alkaline Electric on a tight budget of $5 a day per person? Maybe, because I came very close. If enough people ask I will take it as a challenge and do another post. Get in the kitchen and get creative.
As part of YMCA’s commitment to keeping kids healthy, the Y’s Summer Food Program provides kids with the opportunity to receive nutritious meals and snacks, while also enjoying recreational and learning activities to keep their bodies and minds active. Thanks to support from the Walmart Foundation, the Y will provide 5 million meals and snacks to 250,000 kids and teens at 1,500 locations.
This summer, The Y and Walmart Foundation are partnering to provide meals and snacks to kids up to 18 at 1,500 locations in communities throughout the nation.I know how tough the Summer months can be on families who really rely on the meals provided at schools for their children. It can be tough to suddenly have to figure out how to increase your food budget for the entire Summer and sometimes that’s simply not possible.
No community is safe from food insecurity; it exists in every county in the United States, ranging from 4 percent of the population in Slope County, ND to 33 percent in Humphreys County, MS.
- Y-USA Website: http://www.ymca.net
- Y-USA Summer Food Program Website: theyfeedskids.org
- Y-USA Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/YMCA
- Y-USA Twitter: https://twitter.com/ymca
- Y-USA Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ymca