Slow Food USA
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Take the $5 Challenge



Ask everyone to bring something fresh, healthy, and home-cooked that costs $5 or less for four servings. Have people introduce themselves, their dish, and what their approach was to making the dish cost-effective. Or, have a “conversation starter” potluck about expanding access to fresh, healthy food in your community.

Community Meal

Invite people to a community meal where you’ll be serving fresh, healthy food for $5. Before the meal, gather volunteers to plan a menu, go to the market together, and then cook together in someone’s kitchen. At the meal, pass the hat and ask for a $5 donation. If people like it, form a new cooking team for another meal next month!

Cooking Contest

Challenge people to make a fresh, healthy dish that costs no more than $5 per serving. Let everyone try each other’s dishes, and then vote for winners in a few categories – best dish, best presentation, most creative, etc.


Organize a cooking class or a canning workshop where everyone learns a new skill. Pass out recipes, and have everyone cook and eat together. Or organize a trip to the farmer’s market, where everyone learns tips for shopping on a budget.

Family Dinner

Cook a $5 meal with your friends and family. Especially kids: one of the best ways to get children to try a new food is to get them involved in cooking it in the kitchen. Make sure to register your $5 Meal online, so it can be part of the day’s story.



Bring new people together

The more, the merrier – coming together around the table is one of the best ways to meet new people, and we need everyone at the table to address the challenges to affording healthy food. Ask attendees to bring a friend, and – if you have enough space – reach out to people and organizations who can spread the word to others.

Introduce everyone

Have your attendees introduce themselves: their names, what they brought (if it’s a potluck or cooking contest) and why they came. If it’s a big event, break people up into small groups for the introductions. Starting the meal this way helps break the ice – it gives everyone a chance to speak, and it creates openings for conversations.

Explain the purpose of your $5 Meal

At the beginning of your meal, take a moment to explain why everyone’s there – to have fun, to eat together, to learn from each other, and to send a message to our nation’s leaders. Explain the broader purpose of the day – to move towards a world where everyone can eat fresh, healthy food every day – and what that means to you.

Share your experience with others

Take photos at your event, and post them to Flickr with the tag 5dollar. You can also email photos to Some tips: take a group photo with everyone together, and then take photos of individuals with the food they brought (if it’s a potluck/cooking contest) or with the dish they liked the best. On Twitter, use the #5challenge hashtag to share updates about your event.

Keep it going

If your event goes well, keep it going! Here are some ideas:

  • Keep meeting for potlucks, or community meals. Rotate hosts or head chefs, and ask people to bring a new friend each time.
  • Start a book group, a cooking group, or a farmer’s market shopping group.
  • Bring people back together for Food Day on October 24.
  • Ask your guests what they’d like to do!

And if you’re part of a Slow Food chapter, tell people how they can get involved in your chapter and the work you’re doing in your community.


>> For more ideas and advice, contact us at