Wrapping Up: Heidi's Take-Aways from the CalFresh Challenge

Heidi has been letting us follow along with her CalFresh Challenge – from her budgeting tactics to the struggles to make sure her five-year old daughter and two-year-old son had enough to eat. 

Now at the end of the CalFresh Challenge, Heidi shares what she'll remember most.

What the CalFresh Challenge Taught Me

When I was first thinking about this Challenge, I knew it would be hard to do with kids and I expected to fail. However, after all the generous donations I received, I felt I had to give it my best shot and see it through to the end. So I went full-in, and here we are at the end of Day 5.  

heidi-day-5.jpeg

The photo shows the food we have for the next 2 days. Probably enough to get by, but I think we’ve hit the end of the road. We are at the point where the kids will truly feel the impact of this Challenge, and that is not necessary. We have the luxury of being able to quit when we think it’s gone far enough…

I was going to talk about what I could have done differently in my shopping to make it through the full week, but that is not really the point of this Challenge. The point is that it is hard to do, even under the best of circumstances, and too many people have to do it under much more challenging conditions. I encourage you to read my colleague’s blog about this.

The CalFresh Challenge has had a greater impact on me and the people around me than I expected. The conversations with colleagues, opening of dialogues with people who have lived through hunger, and the visceral first-hand experience of just a moment of struggling with stretching our food to make it last all week. 

I think a profound insight from this week is how much physical and mental energy goes into thinking about food when you don’t have enough. Besides the planning, the shopping, the preparing and the cooking, there is the worry about not having enough, the strategizing about how to make it last, and what to do if it doesn’t. And when you are hungry, you are also not operating to the best of your capacity. I imagine trying to make the climb out of poverty when deprived of enough food to thrive. At least food assistance helps, but it is not enough, and it is inaccessible for many.

With that, we end our journey. Thank you for your support and your encouragement. If you want to learn more or do more, please visit our website for suggestions or continue to donate to the San Diego Hunger Coalition through my fundraiser. Thank you!