Participant bio – Peter Driftmier

Name: Peter Driftmier

Live: East Vancouver

About myself: I work and volunteer in grassroots health, social justice, food justice and community journalism and live in East Vancouver with my partner. I think that if social assistance punishes people by only enabling them to survive by charity subsistence, criminalized work, poor health, and a loss of privacy and self-determination, then we do not have the welfare state we like to pretend we do in Canada.

Why doing the Welfare Food Challenge: I’ve spent the past couple years working close with families from East Vancouver who rely on charitable food programs, and have heard endless stories about how stigmatizing, demoralizing, and degrading the experience of eating in poverty is in our society. I wanted to do the challenge to better understand just how much I would have to depend on charity to survive if I were to live on the current welfare rates, and thus, to better understand the degree to which our government is shirking its responsibilities to maintain a viable social safety net.

My worries: Ultimately, I’m worried that I won’t have the caloric and nutritional intake to feel healthy during the week. I’m worried that I’ll be able to at best eat something three times a day, not sure these will qualify as meals. In other words, I’m worried that I won’t be able to eat healthfully or socially. I’m worried that I won’t be able to afford my coffee addiction, and will spend the week with a bad withdrawal headache. I certainly won’t be able to afford a beer or chocolate bar after a hard day at work. I’m also simply nervous that the money will run out before the week is done.

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