Photo of Victor Li

Victor Li

Currently I am a student working part time as a cook. I have been a cook for the past 10 years of my life. However, I have recently decided to enter into the world of healthcare. Not only do I wish to help the privileged but to help those who truly are unprivileged. For the most part I live a pretty simple lifestyle. Being a foodie, I am often spending more then I should on food.

Food, clothing and shelter are the basic necessities of survival. Most of the time we take these privileges for granted. When you know where your next meal is coming from, it’s easy to overlook the privilege that comes from a full plate of food. Families struggle with day to day things, that if it wasn’t for my privileges; I wouldn’t even notice. Even though I work as a cook and have many privileges that many don’t, I will only be eating the food I bought this week for $21. Through this Challenge I hope to gain a deeper understanding of what it feels like to live in such poor conditions.

Working in downtown Vancouver as a cook. I often witness many people on the streets begging for food. Like many, I often dismiss them and go on with my day. Not really thinking about the situation that they are in. It’s always easier to judge other people versus truly learning about their unique circumstances. Which at times I am guilty of. I honestly have no idea what it feels like to live on a $21 a week food budget. I am doing this Welfare Food Challenge because it’s time for me to become more aware of the poverty issues we face in our own backyard, and to get a closer glimpse into the welfare system that we currently have in place. There should be no excuse that in a country as abundant as Canada, we have citizens living in terrible conditions, going to bed and waking up hungry. Knowing that if they eat too much one day, they might not be eating the next. It sickens me that the government expects the poor to sustain themselves on the pittance they receive. It’s almost impossible, and they end up on street corners, shelters, and food line ups; suffering from deteriorating health issues as a result.

Even with someone with my education, experience and skills; I find it difficult that someone can sustain themselves on $21 a week food budget. I will be challenging myself to see what I can create with such a limited budget. I’ll be documenting this journey and hopefully discovering answers to my questions: Are the current rates bearable? Are people themselves not doing enough to get themselves off welfare? Are there simple solutions that the government can implement? These are the types of questions I hope to find answers to. Hopefully sparking thoughts in others to also think about.

I am bracing myself for a week of malnutrition and do hope I don’t end up feeling drained and weak at the end of the week. I snack heavily throughout the day, often spending $21 for a whole days’ worth of meals or even sometimes on one meal. Surviving a week on $21 will definitely prove to be a challenge. If you hear that rumbling in the back, that just might be me. Be extra wary this week, I might be extra grumpy due to improper nutrition.

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