Nutrition Notes: CalFresh Challenge Week

Could you maintain a food budget of $34.31 for a week? That’s about $4.90 per day. For more than 285,000 low-income San Diego County residents, $34.31 is their weekly allotment for all of their food and beverage needs. This week marks the 8th annual CalFresh Challenge running today through Sunday, Sept. 21. The CalFresh Challenge provides participants an idea of what it is like for millions of Americans that work paycheck to paycheck to provide for themselves and their families.

The challenge started in 2007 when four members of Congress decided to live on an average food stamp budget for one week to raise awareness and understanding of what challenges many people face on a daily basis while receiving CalFresh benefits.

It isn’t too late to participate in the challenge this week. Here are the rules:

1. Budget: Each person has a total budget of $34.31 to be spent on food and beverages for the week (that’s about $4.90 per day).

2. What’s included in the budget: All food purchased and eaten during the Challenge week, including fast food and dining out, must be included in the total spending.

3. Food at home: During the Challenge, only eat food that you purchase for the project. Do not eat food that you already own (this does not include spices and condiments).

4. Social situations with food: Avoid accepting free food from friends, family, or at work, including receptions or social events.

5. Share your experience with us: Document your experience throughout the week using a blog or daily journal to track how you approached the Challenge and share your stories and recipes with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

Eating healthy can be tough when you are on a tight budget, below are a couple of resources for low cost healthy recipes that work on a CalFresh budget:

What’s Cooking USDA Mixing Bowl Recipes: This website provides CalFresh friendly recipes that include the total cost and cost per serving.

Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/day: This is a free PDF version of a new recipe book that provides healthy meal ideas for a CalFresh budget.

It isn’t too late to participate in the challenge this week. Consider doing the challenge with your family, friends, coworkers or your fellow community members that are participating and make it official by pledging your participating here. We are excited that students from San Diego State University are participating in the challenge!