Robyn Turner, Day 7

Challenge Complete (basically). Last night of the challenge. The only food item I have remaining is a half container of peanut butter. While I am happy to see the end, it is also tough because I am one of the fortunate ones who gets to eat nutritious on a budget greater than $18.

Before going into the overall wrap-up, I want to talk about today. The last few days were better, still fatigued and worn out and hungry, but the end was close. I also scored some media attention! This however, took even more energy out of me, and because I live in a small town, I figured now everyone knew and was judging my every move.

I had $1.89 left to spend and since I was at the end, figured let’s go purchase an apple (I was craving something crunchy and fresh). I felt guilty going into the store, wondering if anyone would see me and start asking questions. I quickly grabbed the apple, despite actually needing more groceries, paid and left the store. Spent $0.84 on the apple. Oh it tasted good with my dinner. And I have $1.05 leftover. There is nothing in the store I can buy, I quickly looked. Even chocolate bars were $2.00 ish.

Oh, and in retrospect I spent $0.69 on soup last week. See how nutrition goes out the window? An apple is a snack, soup can last a few meals if portioned out. If you were on a budget, what would you choose? Something nutritious? Or something that lasted a few meals?

Photo of a plate with bread and apple slices on it.

Anyways, while I was afraid to shop in the grocery store, I also gained some much needed momentum from the media attention. Not only was it a great chance to spread the word, but the response from readers and listeners was also neat to see. I am glad to have been a resource and to help those individuals. I just hope this campaign truly does make a difference and brings the issue to the attention of those holding seats in our local government.

To wrap everything up, I went into this campaign for the purpose of raising awareness around the issue of the welfare rates in BC, especially northern BC where the amount of individuals on income assistance are the highest in the province. Coming from Victoria, and a life where I have lived in the highly populated BC cities, I know the issues but have also seen plenty of resources available. Now living in Vanderhoof, the issues still exist, and to a greater magnitude, but the resources are more scarce.

When I first received the email about participating in the Welfare Challenge and learned of the rates of $610, I questioned if this applied to northern BC individuals as well. Yes. Yes, it does. Every person in BC receives the same amount no matter the location. In my job I receive isolation pay related to the known fact the costs are higher in the area I am living. Shouldn’t the income assistance cheque take that into consideration as well? That is when I decided to sign up.

Walking away from the challenge, I am that much more aware of the costs associated with purchasing nutritious food for an individual. I am that much more appreciative of the fact that I can travel to Prince George this weekend and purchase fresh, nutritious food as I desire. I am so grateful for what I have access to on a daily basis. When I am in public, I need to be mindful of the individuals around me and the struggles they are facing. Not everyone can enjoy a weekly latte or a lunch out with co-workers or friends. I have thus far reached out to our premier, and will continue looking for opportunities to improve the life of others.

Winter is coming quickly, the food banks are relied on more and more every year. If you can, hold a fundraiser, or go through your pantry and donate any items you can. Do not forget items like diapers are also appreciated. Try to donate something beyond pasta, even I am sick of that after one week. Halloween is approaching, instead of Trick or Treating, Trick or Eat (aka collect non-perishable items for a local food bank or shelter). This is a great way to continue the tradition of celebrating Halloween, while helping others in the community.

I will never forget the week I felt lethargic, hungry, generally unwell, and was afraid I was going to run out of food. My head ached, my stomach hurt, my muscles hurt like I had done a good work out. I slept poorly too. I do not know the science behind that, but somehow having poor nutrition status, regardless of being fatigued and feeling the need for sleep, means you actually get poor sleep. Not fun.

Essentially, it was a lot tougher than I would have ever thought. Even though I tried to be mindful of nutrition in my meal planning and grocery shopping, it is not realistic. Nutrition is not the same when you turn to relying on processed foods, which you must when on such a tight budget. Eating the same thing every day, twice a day, is disgusting. I hate orzo and do not want to eat any for a long time. The fear of running out of food is something no one should experience. There needs to be a change. I signed the petition, have you?

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