Oriana, Prep for the Challenge
I am taking the 2015 Welfare Food Challenge in British Columbia. I will live off of $21 food budget for 1 week. I am a 37 year old Vancouver resident on disability. On disability you get $900 a month and welfare $610.
I am very lucky that a few years ago I was given a spot in B.C. housing because I needed to transition out of a group home. My normal food budget is $60 a week. Before B.C housing, and before the group home I was living in a basement suite at $650 a month plus phone, internet, medication, hygeine ect. I had very little for food. Often I would drink several cups of tea a day but food once day at the start of the month and every other day near the end. at the very end of the month there would often be 2 days or so where I had nothing. For the little money I had, I had very poor budgeting skills. This may be because I was in the begining stages of schizophrenia which gives undermines your reasoning skills some times.
From 1997 to 2007 I spent half of my time on welfare because people were unwilling to give me work. When I did work I did well despite my undiagnosed mental issues – but people would not give me a chance. Perhaps I come off as strange.
From 1997 to 2000 I lived in the DTES in a rooming house. This was before the bed bug problems and it was fairly nice. I paid $400 for a room with a stove but shared bathroom. I imagine you could not get something as nice nowadays on welfare.
I have shopped a few days early for the challenge because I had anxiety about what I was going to be eating. I shopped at no frills which is a luxury people dont have all the time or at all on welfare because the gov will not give you a bus pass. You are expected to buy single bus tickets which is not reasonable for someone who needs to look for work, shop, go to dr’s ect. When I was on welfare I was not given a bus pass and it was a much bigger hurdle to me than food. One time I found employment and I had to walk 1 hour to work and one hour home. Thank goodness it was summer and not winter.
I don’t know how to transfer a pic from my phone to computer of my shopping haul so I’m sorry. breakfast and lunch will be oatmeal, yogurt and 1/2 a apple. Dinner rice, lentils and 1 carrot. I also bought a box of green tea b/c tea helps keep me calm and I need it to start the day. As I mentioned earlier, when I was in the basement suite I choose to buy tea over food. Life is a little different now because my psychiatric meds make me very hungry and living on little food is much harder. I am worried about the oatmeal and rice not going far. I bought instant rice because it was cheaper but my mom said it is partially cooked and wont expand the way other rice will – meaning I wont have as much as I thought.
I will leave you for now but will leave you with this one thought. When people say “people on welfare need to just get a job” it is not that easy. When you dont have a bus pass you can’t get from place to place and you can’t walk everywhere. Also some people have obstacles such as my undiagnosed schizophrenia. I desperatly wanted to work and looked for work but people would not give me chance. People on welfare are not all lazy they just dont have the right tools and opportunities.