Family of 5 Alkaline Electric’s do the Food Desert Challenge

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. 

Family of 5 Alkaline Electric's do the Food Desert Challenge

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.

Family of 5 Alkaline Electric's do the Food Desert Challenge

Family of 5 Alkaline Electric's do the Food Desert Challenge

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:

Day 1:

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).  

Family of 5 Alkaline Electric's do the Food Desert Challenge

Dinner – Saute’d Butternut Squash and onions. Season with salt. Battered and fried mushrooms. Flour was season with oregano and salt. 

Family of 5 Alkaline Electric's do the Food Desert Challenge

Day 2:

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).  

Family of 5 Alkaline Electric's do the Food Desert Challenge

Dinner – Creamy Vegetable Soup made with onion, mushrooms, kale, butternut squash, peppers, zucchini, flour, water, pasta and seasoning.

Family of 5 Alkaline Electric's do the Food Desert Challenge

Day 3:

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. 

Family of 5 Alkaline Electric's do the Food Desert Challenge

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.


  1. CourtneyLynne says:

    Look what a neat challenge!!! This is a challenge I should try!

  2. Nicole Etolen says:

    Oh, this sounds a hard challenge! I would like to take this challenge, brilliant idea!

  3. Jocelyn @ Hip Mama’s Place says:

    What a fun thing to participate in, I keep seeing this shared online and I think it’s brilliant. Glad you were able to do it, I think it teaches us to step back and learn frugal ways to survive for sure.

  4. aziel morte says:

    What a great idea and this is the best way to teach our kids to value our food and not wasting.

  5. Julie Syl Kalungi says:

    Your food looks and sounds Heavenly indeed. It is a Feast for the Truly starving families in Africa, Asia etc. $78 would feed a family if 5 in Africa for a month seriously! So This Challenge is a good way to teach children to be more mindful of the blessings they got that others cant even dream of!

  6. tauyanm says:

    what a nice challenge! I am myself with my husband drive to the local farmers market when we can or ride the train. their veggies are more affordable and fresh compare to grocery stores. love how creative you are with the dishes

  7. NAZMA IQBAL says:

    everything looks amazing …and this challange is so cool.its a great idea

  8. Karlaroundtheworld | Karla says:

    Wonderful. Starting it out with your past survival experience made this a good read all through out. I’ve had a similar tight budget history before but I’m amazed at how you did it with this challenge, it all looked like you weren’t limited with your choices at all. I guess that’s an inspiration for us to think more openly with our own choices in food. It’s really a great post!

  9. That is a great cause. Makes me want to go donate food too. I hate that there are hungry people.

  10. Mauie - The 24-Hour Mommy says:

    Oh my, what a challenge on your part! I’m not a vegan but, judging from the photos, your food looks yummy!

  11. All of those look and sound delicious! I’m not vegan but I’d enjoy it! Sounds like you did great at budgeting!

  12. Liz Mays says:

    Wow, really good use of those veggies! It’s great that you were able cut costs! This must have been an enlightening experience.

  13. Elizabeth O. says:

    This challenge is a great way to raise awareness about eating healthy. I think it’s great and I’m glad you participated and did pretty well too! That’s amazing!

  14. Christine - The Choosy Mommy says:

    I think this is such a great idea and a great way to teach children about the value of the food put in front of them on the table every day.

  15. Cindy Ingalls says:

    I saw a video on this a few weeks ago and I was shocked. I can’t imagine how hard this must be for families facing food insecurity. Not only do not get to enjoy food, but also have to sacrifice nutrition.

  16. Jeanette says:

    What a neat challenge and good for you for succeeding! I like this idea quite a bit. It seems like you could capitalize on fruits and veggies that are in season to get the most bang for your buck. Thanks for sharing what you made–it was interesting to see!

  17. Christine - The Choosy Mommy says:

    What a great challenge! I think this would also be a great way to involve children in your shopping experience and get them to understand the value of the food you put on the table.

  18. This is awesome! Our daughter has been vegan for some time. She is always looking to try new things.

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