This week Food Bank staff and community members are taking the Hunger Challenge to get a sense of what life is like for thousands of people in North Carolina that receive FNS benefits and live on just $4.21 worth of food each day.

Every day this week we’ll publish a round-up of posts and photos from participants that have chosen to share their experiences. We hope you find their accounts valuable and follow the action all week here and on Twitter.

Marla Shepard, Social Media Ambassador, writes about her experience taking the Hunger Challenge:

When the staff at the Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC reached out to me about doing the Hunger Challenge – spending no more than $4.21 per day on food for a week – my first instinct was to say no. Not because I didn’t want to help, but because I thought it would be too hard.

I believe in volunteerism and spend a lot of my free time on the causes that I support, but there is big difference between doing a little manual labor for a few hours and committing to living off a meager food budget for a week. But when I thought about what was being asked of me I felt like it was worth the temporary inconvenience to bring awareness to the problem of food insecurity.

I have been fortunate in that whatever struggles I may have endured, I have never experienced not having enough to eat. I have never had to choose between paying a bill and having food. I have never had to wonder when or how I would get my next meal. Many Americans have been experiencing this kind of deprivation on a regular basis, so I got over myself and started planning on the best way to approach this challenge.

I am guilty of going to the supermarket several times per week because I always need something, and I can never go in the store and come out with just one item. This is a quick way to blow your budget, so this week I am forcing myself to make do with whatever I have on hand.

Photo of Marla's Chili

@MarlaDShepard writes: Dinner was vegetarian chili over rice. I made a big batch of it a couple of weeks ago and froze half of it. This is going to come in handy this week.

Photo of Marla's dinner

@MarlaDShepard writes: I thawed out some chicken breast that I had in the freezer, and cooked it for dinner along with Basmati rice with vegetables. This will also serve as either lunch or dinner tomorrow as well. I am eating enough and do not feel deprived so far, but I have to stop myself for running out for snacks on my break. You can easily spend $4 for coffee and a pastry which would blow my whole day’s budget.

For those taking the Hunger Challenge this week, living on such a limited budget is a temporary inconvenience. But for nearly 650,000 people in central & eastern North Carolina, these experiences are very real and don’t end after 7 days. Social Media Ambassador Greg Ng writes:

It is Day 4 of the Hunger Challenge and I am already out of food. I will be able to end this challenge early and go back to my food secure situation. But there are many people who aren’t so lucky. Many will see this plate as empty. I see this plate as a symbol of opportunity. Together we can end hunger. Together we can get creative with how we solve this problem. We can fill this plate with our unique skills and talents and ideas. We can make a difference in this world and set a good example for our children. We can put food on the plates of those who need it. Let’s start today ok? I am donating to the Food Bank today. Will you consider donating as well?


Greg’s empty plate as he finishes his Hunger Challenge.

Learn more about the Hunger Challenge on our website at