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Our Family Took The Food Desert Challenge

This post was sponsored by Y-USA as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central.

food desert challenge

We often tell our children how incredibly lucky they are to not have to worry about things like food. It’s something parents tell children all the time but it’s just so hard to grasp until you’re actually in the situation. Did you know that children in our country don’t have access to fresh fruits and vegetables? Many needy families find themselves stuck to shopping at local convenance stores to feed their families.

I am a proud member of our local YMCA and I was thrilled to hear about the YMCA’s commitment to keeping kids healthy. 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. With the help of the Y’s Summer Food Program they have helped to provide nutritious meals and snacks to kids, while also enjoying recreational and learning activities to keep their bodies and minds active. To help drive awareness to the Y’s Summer Food Program they’ve created the food desert challenge which aims to teach families like ours about hunger all year round.

So we took the challenge and headed to our local connivence store which is located less than a mile from our house. Our challenge, to feed our family for just $20 for a day. Check out this video of our shopping trip – 

In the end we ended up with these items for just $20. There were not any fresh vegetables, they did have salads but they were $8 for one salad which I found over our budget. In the end we ended up with a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, 4 bananas, 1 gallon of milk, spaghetti noodles and sauce. We also got Popcorn for a snack and we had just 99. cents left over so I grabbed a cookie that I thought might help us get through snack time. 20 dollar groceries food desertI was a little shocked that we were unable to get the fresh fruits and vegetables. If I would have had access to a grocery store I know that our options would have been much healthier and our money might have gone further.

So we started the challenge the next day with breakfast, toast with peanut butter and half a banana for us all. brooklin eating breakfastLunch was another peanut butter sandwich and popcorn. Our girls were very hungry so they filled up on the cold milk, was happy that I did get the milk since it did seem to brighten their day. mia eating lunchDinner was a highlight for the day, our kids love spaghetti for dinner although they’re used to having fresh vegetables to go with it so I was;t surprised when they asked for broccoli. We used the time to talk about the day and to talk about hunger and what taking the food desert challenge means. We ended the day with milk and the cookies we got. We each got a piece of the cookie and again talked about hunger, our girls saying they hope they never have to go hungry. family eating spaghetti dinnerDay two we went back to the same convenience store and our girls were a lot more excited about the options we had. The store had some fresh apples, so we picked up apples and bananas and had macaroni and cheese for lunch. Dinner we had burritos and fresh fruit which really made all the difference. 2On the third day I went to a different convenience store hoping to mix it up and find some other options. I was happy to find they had eggs, yogurt and strong cheese. Our girls were happy to see these on the menu on our last day. For breakfast we had eggs, donuts and a piece of toast and peanut butter left over form our first day. For lunch I was able to find some remade turkey sandwiches. It had four half sandwiches so we easily split them up and had some crackers and cheese. food desert challengeOur girls did well with the challenge, we noticed that starting on day one I noticed how tired our girls were. It was really hard to not be able to give my kiddos those fresh fruits and vegetables and even harder to help console them when they were hungry throughout the day.

I found it to be incredibly hard to find items that were healthy and filling. I know that if I would have had access to a grocery store our options would have been much greater but it was important for me to show our girls in a tangible way what hunger in our country is like. That’s why it’s so important that communities all across this nation come together. It’s easy to give back and to get involved wherever you can.

You can challenge your family to take the Food Desert Challenge and learn more about the Summer Food Program on their website.


Do you think your family could take the food desert challenge? 


  1. Christina Aliperti on July 29, 2016 at 2:36 pm

    I think we could make this challenge work. We buy a lot of store brands, shop sales and use coupons. That really helps keep us under budget.

  2. Chrystal | Nevermore Lane on July 29, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    Because I am on such a limited income these days, I can feel the heat when it comes to trying to buy healthy foods and stick to a budget. I cannot deal with prepackaged items no matter how much cheaper they are. My insides are never happy lol

  3. Nikki Wayne on July 28, 2016 at 8:00 pm

    Wow, what a nice challenge! We will survive if we are going to have this challenge, sounds really interesting.

  4. ROSE on July 28, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    I’ve seen people doing this challenge. It’s a good lesson but it sounds very difficult.

  5. Katherine G on July 28, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    Wow! This was an interesting challenge. I think our family would be able to handle this challenge. I hate to think of children being hungry.

  6. Meagen Brosius on July 28, 2016 at 11:15 am

    I’m sure this is especially challenging with children! We are blessed to be so close to local farmers markets, grocery stores, etc.

  7. Kita Bryant on July 28, 2016 at 9:41 am

    This looks fun and very challenging! If you’re family is bigger, $20 doesn’t go a long way!

  8. aziel morte on July 28, 2016 at 8:46 am

    What a fun challenge. That is the great way to teach our kids value for the food and not wasting.

  9. Ann Bacciaglia on July 28, 2016 at 8:35 am

    The Food Desert Challenge sounds like a great way to teach kids about hunger. This is something I would love to try with my kids.

  10. Toni | BoulderLocavore.com on July 28, 2016 at 3:52 am

    Glad you accepted the challenge. It’s a good way for the kids to learn to be thankful for everything they have especially when it comes to food on the table.

  11. Amanda Love on July 28, 2016 at 12:55 am

    It’s a sad reality that a lot of families are not able to afford to eat three times a day, sometimes more. I’m glad you took the challenge because you’re also being part of raising awareness and inviting people to help out. It’s also nice opportunity to teach your kids about the struggles of other people when it comes to food.

  12. Liz Mays on July 27, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    Oh wow, that’s a tough challenge. I’m glad you guys were able to figure out a way through it. We definitely rely on the nearby grocery stores.

  13. Donna on July 27, 2016 at 7:47 pm

    Being in different financial situations throughout my life I know I could definitely eat on that and less. I will admit it would be much more difficult for my 13 year old son (who eats us out of house and home lately) since he really hasn’t ever had to worry about going without. He does know that many, many children throughout the world do go hungry and don’t know where there next meal is going to come from. This is a great challenge!

  14. Brandy on July 27, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    I think we could do the food challenge, for many years I lived very low level income and had to live like this on a regular. I am so thankful I don’t have to but sometimes doing something like this would bring you back down to a more frugal level when you start making more cash and forgot that money doesn’t grow on tress. Love that you all did this!

  15. crystal on July 27, 2016 at 3:41 pm

    It can be tough trying to stick to a budget when shopping, but when your options are so limited you really are made aware of challenges some families face. I am so thankful I have the opportunity to feed my children fresh fruits and vegetables daily. It’s good to know how we can support programs so that all children have access.

  16. MJ L on July 27, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    It is hard to just stick to that amount per day as you can see. I would love to try this at my home.

  17. Kelly Hutchinson on July 27, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    We also tell the kids how lucky they are in this respect. I think participating in a challenge like this really hits the point home.

  18. Pam on July 27, 2016 at 1:29 pm

    There are several food deserts in the city near me. It’s a real problem! The Y lunches for kids during the summer are a great resource. There’s also a mobile farmer’s market that accepts SNAP that has started up. So many people don’t realize that hunger and lack of access to healthy food is a problem right on their own doorstep.

  19. Jeanine on July 27, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    I think we could do this! My kids eat us out of house and home every time we do big shops so this would be a great lesson for them. I think its a great idea.

  20. Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle on July 27, 2016 at 7:40 am

    I’m pretty sure we could take the challenge, but I’m glad we don’t have to. Even though we are mildly well-off, we teach our kids everyday that they are LUCKY that we have what we have.

  21. Lindsey Paris on July 27, 2016 at 6:23 am

    I was always taught it’s not that there’s a scarcity of food… it’s getting it to the people that need it that’s the problem!