Where to go from here?
My week officially ends at 1:30pm today. Which begs the question, where do I go from here? First off, and I have been asked this many times, what am I going to eat first? I think people often expect that I want a steak or perhaps icecream, something rich and indulgent. However, there are three things that are first on my list and will find their way into the latter half of my day: several pieces of fruit, as I especially have a hankering for the last of this season’s plums; a variety of vegetables with lots of flavour, maybe a salad or a stir-fry (without the rice!) with copious of amounts of strong local garlic and possibly some hot sauce; and the strongest Americano I can get my hands on, as I crave the bold flavour as much as I do the caffeine.
Secondly, and most definitely more importantly, what I am going to do with my experience this week? Through this week I have been able to have a small glimpse into what life might be like living on welfare. I fully acknowledge that I have done this with the full comforts of the rest of my life, my home, my bed, among many others things, and have only done it for one week. Despite the shallow depths to which participating in the Welfare Food Challenge has truly exposed me to the inadequacy of our social safety net, I can wholeheartedly say the attempts to address poverty in BC are pathetic. The meager amounts given on welfare give no possibility for any quality of life and definitely no platform for one to be able to improve one’s situation. I can’t possibly imagine trying to have any energy and persistence in trying to find work when living like this. I can’t imagine the effects on my health and wellness of continuing to eat this way for even a month or two, let alone beyond that.
We need to do better! We can do so much better! We need to raise the welfare rates (and remove senseless barriers), the minimum wage, improve social housing and develop a comprehensive poverty reduction plan (which we are one of the last provinces in Canada to do)! What am I going to do? Raise the Rates has listed some actions in another blog post and these will also be circulated to all participants in the Challenge. I am going to write personal letters to both Christy Clark and Adrian Dix. I am going to write posts on both of their Facebook walls. I am going to schedule a visit with Shane Simpson, my MLA, to tell him about my experiences and to ask him to take action on my behalf in Victoria. I am going to work with others from the Vancouver Food Policy Council to pass a motion that calls for the Government of BC to take broad action against poverty.
What are you going to do? I hope you will also take action too, regardless of whether you took part in this Challenge or not.