Moved from Vancouver West End to Port Coquitlam in April 15
I try to follow people that are inspirational and amazing, (Clara Hughes, Bif Naked, Dr. Jane Goodall, Christine Sinclair to name just a few). About 5 years ago I started to follow BIF NAKED on social media. She is a Canadian icon and one of the most inspirational and talented young women in our country. I followed Bif during her 2014 Welfare Food Challenge. I received a tweet that Bif Naked was once again participating in the 2015 challenge. I promptly tweeted back “can anyone participate? How?” Within seconds I received a response with a link.
I perused the information, pondered the challenge and how if it was realistic for me to participate. One hour later I retweeted “I’M IN”. The following day I signed up to participate.
Born in Hamilton, ON I relocated to BC in 1992. My paternal grandmother received welfare benefits until her passing. It was a taboo topic in our family, never open for discussion. I believe my father was embarrassed. I recall arguments between my grandmother and my dad, where he offered assistance and she refused. I recall my grandmother volunteering to work in the kitchen at weddings and other community social events; I suspect these events provided her with companionship and supplemented her fridge with food left overs. It was her evening out. On many a visit to Nana’s house there was a small package of food from so-and-so’s wedding on the counter or in the fridge. She would save any special treats for visitors rather than consume it herself. This was my first exposure to a person on welfare.
In 1992 I relocated from ON to BC, I was surprised by the number of poor people that recall that the BC Government of the day was shipping some welfare applicants back to the province from which they came.
Fall 2007 I relocated from the suburbs to Vancouver’s West End. You need only step a few feet from your front door to be face- to-face with homelessness and poverty. Mr. Green (RIP) who cleaned the Denman Street sidewalk for scraps of food from local establishments; the young woman crouched on the ground at the Mac’s on Davie Street with a baseball cap in hand; the young disabled man on crutches on Davie Street “money for milk, ma’am? God bless you. Have a great day.” You can barely walk the streets of Vancouver without seeing people of all ages panhandling, to see people scouring the streets to pick up coins here and there. A disabled gentleman outside the IGA at Burrard and Smithe selling art for a couple of dollars; the doorways of vacant businesses on Granville Street; stand in line at any night club and you will quickly realize the amount of poverity and homelessness in the city of Vancouver. Drop by the East Side where S&S Café on Hastings serves breakfast for about $3 to the poor and talk to the children at Ray-Cam trying to raise much needed funds through car washes. You would have to be blind to not notice the number of people collecting bottles and cans and yes, even binning for food and items that could be turned into cash.
I am a 21 year employee with Costco Wholesale’s Western Canada Regional Office. Costco is seen by many as excess. Everything in excess. Taste tests abundant. The home of the $1.50 hot dog and pop. Welfare recipients and the homeless are not Costco members.
I am doing this challenge because I don’t have a good enough excuse not to do the challenge.
Worries? I do have a few. Will I be skilled enough shopper to get as much food as possible for my $21? I try to eat organic as much as possible; I realize this will not be possible. At this time of year, will I be able to afford sufficient fruits and vegetables? Am I organized & creative enough to meal plan and get as many healthy meals out of my shopping cart as possible. Will I have sufficient food to get through the week? Will I miss my $1.40 per day Tim Horton’s morning coffee – Yes, I believe I will.
Some coworkers have asked the following:
- My supervisor – “will you be grumpy?” “no more than usual”
- Coworker – “can I leave treats on your desk?” “No”
- Coworker – “can I bring you leftovers from home?” “No.”
- Coworker – “I will lend you some money” ”No.”
- Coworker – “you can do the taste tests” “No, I can’t”.