Suzanne Johnson, Prep for the Challenge

Welfare Food Challenge – Why?

The welfare rates in BC have not been raised since 2007. Low welfare rates are part of the picture of poverty in BC, which is the worst in Canada. I am particularly concerned about the impact that this has on the First Nations people.

Food insecurity is a significant issue for many First Nations people with roughly a third of families who are earning wages facing some degree of food insecurity. The number of individuals on limited income assistance is also significant and these individuals face food insecurity at almost double the rate of their wage-earning neighbours.

I have been raised in a food active family and health minded community and save for my own stubbornness have never known hunger. Our community is active in health and social programs that provide some needed assistance to our members such as community gardens, community kitchens and healthy harvest box programs, in traditional hunting, fishing and gathering, in community meals and the sharing of food but reported rates of food insecurity are still what they are. How is it for an aboriginal person living in a city such as Vancouver? When you do not have the access to local and traditional foods, when you do not have the connection and sense of community from family and neighbours and when you do not have affordable housing? For this week, even though I have more assets than what would allow me to access social assistance, and even though I have access to local foods and will attend community functions in which food is offered, I am going to eat only that which I have been able to purchase with my $21 allowance.

Stay tuned as I continue to post and share this week long experience.

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