5th Annual Welfare Food Challenge

The 5th Annual Welfare Food Challenge starts on Sunday, October 16th, 2016 and runs for a full 7 days. Sign up today!

Photo of some of the 2016 Welfare Food Challenge Participants speaking to the Press at the launch of the Challenge at the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House

This is an invitation to join Raise the Rates’ Annual Welfare Food Challenge in October, 2016. The previous 4 years of the Challenge were all a great success. The Challenge is for one week, eating only what can be purchased with the money a welfare recipient receives.

Over 600 people have so far taken the Challenge and this year, 2016, we aim to make it the biggest ever. Raise the Rates is working hard to make poverty an election issue in 2017.

The Challenge highlights the inadequacy of welfare rates in BC. A single person receives only $610 a month, frozen for over 9 years. Raise the Rates, with others, is working to raise public awareness of the extreme poverty of people on welfare; and how this poverty costs the people of BC in human suffering and billions of wasted dollars every year.

Participants have come from across the province and included families, school and university students, elected representatives, union leaders, businesspeople, workers and seniors, as well as ‘celebrities’ such as Bif Naked. We gained good mainstream and social media coverage.

The Challenge will start on World Food Day, Sunday October 16, 2016 and run for a full 7 days. Due to the rising cost of rent, even for single room occupancy (SRO) in the Downtown Eastside participants will be expected to live on only the food they can purchase with $18 dollars (Why $18? for calculation). This calculation is based on the expectation that welfare recipients will have to pay rent and damage deposit, cell phone (necessary to look for work and contact the welfare office) and personal hygiene. We have dropped buying bus tickets, which is what many people on welfare often do, so that there is some money left for food. They either walk or hope for the goodwill of bus drivers – which is usually the case, but they do risk a $173 fine. Out of $610 there is very little money left for food.

For more information

Guidelines for Participants

Thank you for agreeing to take the Challenge.

The Challenge runs for 7 days from Sunday, October 16 to Saturday, October 22, 2016.

During that week, participants will only eat the food they can buy with $18 dollars.

Welfare Food Challenge participants will be asked not to accept any kind of charity or other food not coming out of their $18 dollar budget – so no using food banks, accessing free meals through charities or friends, eating food you already have, or eating food you have grown. After all the government thinks that $610 a month is enough to live on and many people in BC on welfare do not have access to charity.

Families, classes and other groups may choose to participate together and share resources. Challenge takers can get together with other challenge-takers to eat a meal together.

Share that you are taking the Challenge with others. Tell your fellow students; work colleagues; other members of organizations you are part of – your community group, union, faith community, etc; and friends, neighbours and family. Invite them to take the Challenge as well.

And don’t forget to encourage everyone to sign the petition!

Participants are asked to document their experiences and help to publicize them. This can include:

  • Writing blog posts for the Welfare Food Challenge website describing what you ate, how much it cost, and photos of the food. Also sharing your thoughts feelings, what you miss, your shopping experience, etc.
  • Use social media such as Facebook, Pinterest & Instagram to publicize your experiences.
  • Perhaps attend a news conference and speak to the media about the challenge.
  • Sharing your experiences with your friends, family, community members, the media and policy makers.
  • Documenting your thoughts at the end of the challenge, any difficulties you faced, and how this relates to the experiences of people who always have to get by on this amount of money.

If you cheat – have extra food – please own up.

If you feel you cannot continue with the Challenge, please stop as we do not want people suffering serious health consequences. We ask that you post a blog explaining that you have stopped and saying why. Of course people on welfare have no such option, they cannot get extra money.

Good luck and thank you, on behalf of the poor of BC.

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