The 2014 Welfare Food Challenge was a huge success in raising awareness about the appallingly low income assistance rates in BC that trap people in the vicious cycle and misery of poverty. Over 180,000 people struggle to feed themselves on $21 a week. The Challenge for this year is over but the struggle continues for those on welfare and for all of us calling on the BC government to RAISE THE RATES. Please help us to pressure the government to do the right thing and make changes now. Please sign our petition,… Read More
Here’s the letter that the participants in the 2014 Welfare Challenge wrote to Minister Don McRae and Opposition Critic, Michelle Mungall. Please write your own letter, sign the petition, and ask everyone you know to help raise the rates! Dear Don McRae (Minister for Social Development) & Michelle Mungall (Opposition Critic), As you know, over 100 people across British Columbia took part in the 3rd annual Welfare Food Challenge organized by Raise the Rates. You were invited to join the Challenge but decided not to. We, as Challenge Takers, realized before we… Read More
The 3rd Annual Welfare Food Challenge ended with a fantastic press conference. Read more below or download the news release (PDF). Also, view photos from the news conference on our Facebook page. And read the letter that the 2014 Challenge Takers wrote to Don McRae (Minister for Social Development) and Michelle Mungall (Opposition Critic). Raise welfare rates say Welfare Food Challenge takers The BC government should raise welfare rates and bring in a poverty reduction plan. That was the consensus of the people who took the Welfare Food Challenge, eating only what… Read More
Welfare Food Challenge ¶dash; Reflecting on the week long experience I decided to participate in the Welfare Food Challenge not only to highlight issues of food insecurity but to transform my level of understanding through a real experience. I was to assume that I was starting from scratch and could eat only the food that I could purchase with $21 for the week. This meant that I could not even touch the salt & pepper shakers in my cupboards. I will admit that I was inspired by my coworker who is absolutely… Read More
I was able to buy some nuts (in bulk section) a bag of corn chips on sale, a big thing of yogurt on special and some 50% reduced baked goods – day old. I am aiming for bulk – what fills me up. I am taking a ton of creamers and sugars in the coffee (free) in the places I am going. I want all the things I can’t buy – even things I wouldn’t even want ordinarily but suddenly raspberry ginger cookies sound amazing. Last day: I have 2 dollars left…. Read More
THE LAST day! Wow, this challenge has gone by so fast it’s crazy! Last meal you ask? Oatmeal of course :-) Today, was one of the more stressful ones with work & school & hunger all getting mixed up in a slightly too stressful combination, but at least the day is done! Tomorrow, I get to buy coffee and meet other people on the challenge, which is super exciting. Things that I’ve learnt or experienced on the challenge: losing weight feeling anxious trying to budget in a supermarket & not being sure… Read More
Today is the last day of the challenge and it was a tough one. I have been out all day at meetings and events and returned home past 10. It was difficult to be around so much food tonight (a huge buffet with many delicious options) even when I try to distract myself. Often people notice that you are not eating whether at social or professional gatherings and ask why, which is an opportune time to engage others and to talk about the welfare food challenge. Most can sympathize that $21/week is… Read More
Day 7 – after a week on $21, I think many things have changed: my perspective, my diet, and my spending. It’s too easy to forget about about those who need help, those who we see lining up for the food bank, or those people on the street we push from our minds. Remember how many young children and families are on social assistance, and how many use the food bank. $21 is not enough money to healthily, to feed our bodies and our minds. When you’re hungry, it’s so hard to… Read More
Breaky: oatmeal Lunch: I forgot my lunch on the counter at home. I almost cried/gave up. Thank god my friend at work had ramen noodles to give me (we still had one package from our budget that we had not eaten) Dinner: the plan was beans on toast (see pic below). I was NOT looking forward to this dinner. Alan liked it but bla! So I gave Alan my portion and I had my lunch of PB and banana sandwich and an apple.
LAST DAY – Reflection Today was fun. I boothed at the Totem Park Commons Block where 1st years live, and engaged in dialogue with dozens of people. I also gave them the option to sign the petition to raise the rates if they were interested. What I experienced this evening was a reminder as to why we need to create awareness, and why we need to engage in dialogue to create a safe space for people to learn, make mistakes, and get thinking. Today, I had dozens of conversations with students at… Read More
October 22nd, 2014 It’s the final day of the welfare food challenge and a lot of interesting things happened as everyone probably knows in regard to the shooting in Ottawa. For this post I’ll try to stay on topic with the food challenge. Video recap below. I was thinking for today that I would drop by a different grocery store on my way home and to the supermarket as technically if the challenge was to continue I would have to buy some grocery items again. I knew one thing for sure was… Read More
Happy Welfare Wednesday – the end of living on 3$ a day for 7 days is in sight! I enter into day 6 of the welfare challenge feeling pretty optimistic. I just restocked on groceries and still have $3 to spare! I have a lot of tofu left and a couple of eggs for protein. I’m currently making some squash soup and applesauce, I’m pretty sick of eating apples. So don’t worry mom and dad and all other concerned parties, I’m not starving. The turning point was day 3. I no longer… Read More
I know a lot of the emotional swings I am having is due to my diabetes. Normally I manage it with diet and exercise but the limitations on diet, and the lack of energy and will to exercise are exacerbating the problems. I have to travel today and all the money I have not spent will hopefully help me be able to survive a road trip. My go to food is a single bun from the bakery (27c) and a banana (31c). We ate “banana sandwiches” when I was a little girl,… Read More
Well today was one of my worst days yet as far energy level and mental capacity goes. It was probably my least productive days for work as I just didn’t want to even think about thinking. Seriously I feel really dumb and wonder how well I will articulate anything. With this in mind, let’s consider that employable people living on income/social assistance should be trying to get a job, this is roughly 40% of recipients. I am not to sure that I could have convinced anyone to hire me today. Just so… Read More
Tuesday, October 21, 2014 I wanted something savory for breakfast, so I ate a cup of the broccoli soup with 1/4 cup of steamed rice. Then I made an instant coffee like yesterday. Throughout the morning I felt dizzy and lightheaded. I ate a quarter of a bagel with 1 tablespoon of cream cheese, then half of a pluot. To fight off the constant feeling of fatigue, I ate 2 fried (without oil) eggs, and rice with a bit of soy sauce and sesame oil. I felt better soon, but in a… Read More
October 21st, 2014 What a hectic day this was as well as learning some interesting public feedback about this welfare food challenge. Sorry, rush post today as I am blogging and cooking at the same time. Video below for my day’s recap. Today was interesting as work wise I agreed to do so many things which kept me busy all day. For one of the work I did, as mentioned yesterday meals were provided to people and this is what my friend got just as an example of the food I could… Read More
It’s no wonder that most of our participants are feeling pretty low-energy and getting a bit cranky… Read their posts and their personal blogs/tweets/instagrams to read how some of them are doing! Check out our Facebook page!
Raise the Rates is pleased to see that the media is paying attention to this critical issue. See the list of articles and stories that have been published about the Welfare Food Challenge before and during the campaign. Thanks again to all of you amazing participants who are helping raise awareness in BC (and beyond) to let everyone know that $610 a month for an individual living on social assistance in BC is much too low and that the BC government needs to RAISE THE RATES!
Day 6 was a challenge because it was a busy day, and I was so hungry by the time I got home; it was hard to wait 45 minutes to make my lentils while my tummy grumbled. The challenge with a small budget and minimal time is that it’s easier and certainly cheaper to eat Kraft Dinner instead of brown rice and lentils. It seems unfair for those on social assistance to not be able eat a healthy diet, and survive on ramen noodles, especially when they already have enough challenges. My… Read More
Food: oatmeal, PB sandwich, apple, Banana, popcorn, eggs and a bit of broccoli (what was left) Mood: tired (I have a toddler who was up multiple times in the night), cranky, disinterested in my boring food, and my body feels like crap. I miss fiber (tmi?) Glad it is all over tomorrow! Night!
Wow, was today ever a great day for awareness – this project was published in 3 different newspapers! I AM SO HAPPY! The 24 hour newspaper: http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2014/10/20/welfare-rates-a-strain-on-kids-student The Georgia Straight: http://www.straight.com/news/753491/samantha-truong-what-i-learned-taking-welfare-food-challenge. and The Talon UBC: http://thetalon.ca/raisetherates-bcs-3rd-annual-welfare-challenge/ I will also have a 30 minute show with the CiTR 101.9FM @4pm on Thursday October 23! Tune in!
Oatmeal for breaky, PB sandwich and an apple for lunch (I forgot my banana at home, I was so upset), KD and the rest of our broccoli for dinner. I’m getting used to not eating much but I think the lack of nutritious food is getting to me. My energy is low and to be honest, I’m cranky. I’m ready for this to be over. The sad part is, for so many this is there life. It doesn’t end in a week.
Hanging on to the #welfarefoodchallenge My clinical, community, and research work revolves around the relationship between poverty and health. I am privileged to hear the stories of patients who are struggling. I get it, I think to myself, and I’m committed to making a change. Do I need to do the welfare food challenge to help me do this? Probably not. But perhaps I can learn something. On day 1 of the food challenge, I had a commitment to speak at the BC Renal Agency annual conference on the topic of poverty… Read More
What a challenge and how many times I have failed simply because, unlike those living in these situations full time, I have availability of food. I am grateful for the heightened compassion for the plight of others, for the conversation that this challenge has inspired and for the comments of those who come to the Blessings Pantry to shop. As mentioned in the links I am irritable dizzy, wanting to isolate but feeling left out. My work duties are suffering and this is no fun. Conclusion = We as a society are… Read More
It is Day 5 of the welfare food challenge. I meant to communicate at the half way point through Twitter, Facebook and a blog post. I managed the first two and here is the blog post a few days late. I am definitely counting the days until it is over – two more sleeps. I have never been so aware of the cost of food. I have lived with my partner, Lee, for more than thirty years. When we first got together our division of labour was that he did the grocery… Read More
I am feeling better today (recovering slowly but surely). It’s a lot easier to be at work, back to back meetings, intriguing conversations/discussions and public health emergencies to keep me busy from thinking about what my next meal looks like and far away from my pantry full of food. It’s encouraging to know that there is a large group of “Welfare Food Challenge Takers” this year going through similar experiences of mundane foods, hunger, and lethargy with only $21 to spend on food over 7 days. It’s deeply disturbing to know that… Read More
Monday, October 20, 2014 Breakfast with 2 tablespoons of the Greek yogurt, 10 Shreddies, and 10 blueberries. Since I am unable to afford the 40-cent coffee, I am trying a couple of different instant coffees. Roommate let me try her “Make 260 Coffees or More” Nescafe Rich instant coffee. It was not bad and cost 7 cents. Morning snack was 7 chestnuts. For lunch, I had 1.5 cup of steamed rice with 1 cup of broccoli soup. The soup actually came out a bit salty, and good to dunk a dollop of… Read More
From https://twitter.com/TanjaCvekic Had to quit #welfarefoodchallenge over wknd. Not enough nutrients, felt weak & hungry. @RaisetheRates #bcpoverty Living off $21/week healthily = hours of planning groceries & meals. Even so, not likely. #welfarefoodchallenge #bcpoverty @RaisetheRates
#welfarefoodchallenge I have enough food,I'm so sick of it, it makes me not want to eat. Guh. #raisetherates campaigning sucks hungry. It takes an incredible amount of energy and patience to help people in poverty, it takes significantly more to live it. #raisetherates
Too tired and getting depressed, very weepy so I don’t have a diary for day 4. I have had a couple of occasions (one yesterday and one today) where food has been supplied at a meeting, and at these meetings I have overeaten, eaten things I don’t even like and taken food away with me. My embarrassment that people would think me greedy did not last long. I was too hungry to care. I even went into the kitchen and begged for a coffee before the meeting started and before the coffee… Read More
Food I did some cooking in the kitchen, and the photo with all the containers is all the food I will be eating until the end of my challenge. I am quite pleased with my “casserole” – it consists of shredded potatoes, carrots, broccoli, and tomato paste. And half an hour in the oven, I also baked some potato chucks and tossed it in there to get some variety in texture! For dinner, I had instant noodles – this time I used my veggie broth remainder to boil the noodles in, rather… Read More
Have you written to the Premier, Christy Clark, the Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation, Don McRae, the Leader of the Opposition, John Horgan, or your provincial MLA – asking the Provincial Government to raise welfare rates in BC? You can find their contact information here: http://www.leg.bc.ca/mla/3-1-1.htm and there’s a sample letter on our Take Action page. Now would be a great time to do it, as many people are doing this during the Welfare Food Challenge! Here is what Bif Naked wrote in her letter! To The Honourable Don McRae,… Read More
Over 100 people are participating in the Welfare Food Challenge this year. Here’s a challenge to us all: Let’s make this week count. Sign our petition and ask your friends to do the same. Write to your MLAs. Join the Raise the Rates listserv (by contacting Bill at email@example.com) and come to our meetings in Vancouver. Organize in your communities and help make the movement for welfare rates people can survive on grow.
Making banana pancakes Today, I got creative with the food I have left. In the morning, I made banana pancakes with 2 eggs & 1 banana and topped them with brown sugar and then for dinner, I made fried rice and baked some potatoes in the oven. It was pretty tasty, apart from lacking in sauces/spices. I’m realizing the only reason I’m able to succeed at this challenge is become I have a kitchen! If it weren’t for the microwave/stove/oven/fridge, I’m really not sure what I’d eat, but it definitely wouldn’t be… Read More
I have been fighting off a cold since late last week… It’s been nagging on and I’m still struggling with it and in bed this weekend. Having access to nutritious and healthy foods is not only important for preventing disease and maintaining health but also for recovering from illness. One of the reasons why Canadian Medical Association’s report on Health Care in Canada (https://www.cma.ca/Assets/assets-library/document/fr/advocacy/What-makes-us-sick_en.pdf) concluded that poverty is the most important factor when it comes to determining whether Canadians live long, and healthy lives.
October 19th, 2014 Casual day of research was the theme today. Video below for my day’s recap. I didn’t physically go to stores to look at prices today. Instead, I casually looked online for some potential deals and pricing history for certain items. For the can of sardine I was potentially thinking of buying on the last day the cheapest I found was a two for $1 sale. Why is this important? I think you need to have good knowledge on how cheap an item can potentially get for you to better… Read More
Sunday October 19 For breakfast, I had 1 cup of soy milk with 10 Shreddies and 10 roasted black beans. During the morning I slowly ate 1/2 of the baked sweet potato. Lunch was 1/4 of an Everything bagel, 1/4 cup of steamed rice, and 1.5 cup of broccoli soup. In the afternoon I went to Costco for a price check and to GardenWorks. This time, I carried the half of the sweet potato in a container and a water bottle. Being in a crowded Costco and immersing myself in the stupefying… Read More