Carol Lewis, Day 1

For the week of Nov. 3 to 9th, two public figures – motivational speaker and singer/songwriter New Delhi-born Bif Naked, and Hongkong born NDP Vancouver East MP Jenny Kwan – are joining over 170,000 people on welfare in their struggle to eat well on $21 a week.

In the 60 years I have been alive, I had the absolute luxury of living above the poverty line for 26 years. While married for 26 years, I was able to be a stay-at-home mom, with a family income easily above the LICO (Low Income Cut-Off)

I had the luxury of growing a garden, of taking courses at local colleges, universities, and community recreation centres on how to preserve food, how to cook nutritious meals for a family, and I learned what a healthy diet looked like. Imagine my surprise to find out how much I already knew from the challenges of my emancipated youth, when I lived on less than $100 a month?!

So, when I read about the $21 a week challenge, I knew I had years of experience, of knowledge and of resourcefulness worth sharing. I am taking the $21 a week challenge, in support of the Raise the Rates Initiative, in this 4th annual Welfare Food Challenge.
I am not on welfare. I am not eligible for welfare. I own a single wide trailer. I also own a car.

I have lived on an annual income which is well below what Stats Canada considers to be the Low Income Cut Off ( in fact last year less than 1/2 of the LICO Stats Canada rates.

I am one of the working poor. I was born in Canada, and have grown up here my entire life. I have lived across this great nation and almost always in farming communities, so I am fully aware of the abundance of food we grow in this country. I am appalled by the quantity of food we throw away in this country, and by the casual way people allow food to spoil in their refrigerators, leave half finished meals in restaurants and half emptied coffee cups.

Canada With Poverty states the ‘average’ food expenditure for a single person in Canada is $7,300.
A single welfare recipient receives about $610 a month. There has been no increase in 7 years. The Market Basket Measure, considered to be the most accurate measure of low income cut-off states that in my area, the income poverty line is $17,666. A single welfare recipient receives $7,320 – less than half of what Stats Canada indicates is the poverty line!

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