Fighting San Diego Hunger with Creative Communications

Could you eat on $4.27 a day?

Mixte asked San Diego this question with the CalFresh Challenge, San Diego Hunger Coalition‘s cause awareness campaign.

The challenge: Make it through at least one day with a daily meal budget of just $4.27 – the average allotment for an individual on CalFresh, formerly known as food stamps. A CalFresh budget encompasses everything you eat that day, including coffee and snacks.

The week before, I was actually looking forward to the challenge. It was a puzzle to solve. It was a way to better understand my community. It was a conversation starter.

I remember my unpaid internship days well. I know how to stretch my meal budget. So quite honestly, I didn’t think it would be that difficult. Turns out I thought I knew how to budget. One day of the CalFresh Challenge proved me wrong.

The day before, I wandered around Grocery Outlet for way too long, comparing prices and nutrition labels. Finally, I came up with these ingredients. Total cost: $3.82.


I seriously struggled without my morning coffee, but a fried egg sandwich kept me going until lunch. Around noon, I warmed up a cup of noodles and tried not to think about how much sodium was in that thing. I just reminded myself, “This was only 33 cents.”


Later, a banana and canned oranges between strategy meetings kept my energy up and distracted me from the caffeine headache. But by 5 p.m., I was tired after a day of work. The cup of noodles didn’t leave me feeling great. I could have finished off the eggs and bread for dinner. I could have gotten creative with the 45 cents I had left for the day. But my dad was visiting, and at that point, all I wanted was a full plate of vegetables. We went out to dinner and spent something like half a week’s CalFresh budget on one salad.

While I’m not proud of how I did on the CalFresh Challenge, it confronted me with my own privilege and with the difficult reality that one in eight people in my community face every day.

Throughout the week, everyone at Mixte’s office attempted the challenge in their own way. It turned out differently for each of us, but we all agreed it was more difficult than expected.

For Devon, the challenge was a lesson in humility. For Mia, it was a reminder of how difficult life is for our neighbors who rely on CalFresh every day.

After the CalFresh Challenge, I’m more motivated to listen with humility, to learn and to support the San Diego Hunger Coalition’s efforts to make sure no one in our community has to live without access to enough food.

I’m also inspired and thankful to be part of a company that lives what it believes. That walks the walk and bikes the bike.

When we start conversations about issues that matter to our community, things get better for all of us. We elevate voices that are too often overlooked and we start to understand each other’s perspectives. With every media placement, blog series or social media campaign, Mixte empowers our clients to make our community a healthier place.