6th Annual Welfare Food Challenge

The 6th Annual Welfare Food Challenge starts on Wednesday, November 1st, 2017 (to avoid conflicting with the city by-election) 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 November 2017. The previous 5 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.

The Challenge highlights the inadequacy of welfare rates in BC. Even with the $100/month raise implemented by the new BC government, this amount is not enough. A single person receives only $710/month, which provides only $19/week for food. With the rising cost of rent, lack of rent control, exorbitant cost of living in the city, this is only $1 more per week than the Challenge in 2016. Raise the Rates, with others, is working to raise public awareness of the extreme poverty of people on welfare; and how there needs to be more action and commitment to see rates raised so people on welfare can live with dignity.

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

The Challenge will start on Wednesday November 1st (to avoid conflicting with the city by-election) and run for a full 7 days. Participants will be expected to live on only the food they can purchase with $19 dollars. This calculation is based on the expectation that welfare recipients will have to pay rent and damage deposit, bus tickets and cell phone (necessary to look for work and contact the welfare office) and personal hygiene. Out of $710 there is still very little money left for food.

The aim of the Challenge is raise public awareness about the poverty of people on welfare and the need for change. To help publicize the Challenge, we hope you will document and publicize your experiences. This could include:

  • Writing blog posts for our website
  • Posting directly to your own social media
  • Attending a news conference and speaking to the media about your experiences of the challenge
  • Sharing your experiences with your friends, family, community members, and policy makers

Maybe take the Challenge in a group, with friends or colleagues. Thank you for considering taking the Welfare Food Challenge. Your contribution to raising awareness and creating policy change is important. If you have any questions or would like to participate, please contact Kell Gerlings at raise.the.rates17 [at] gmail.com or 778.871.0141

We will continue to campaign to raise public awareness about the inadequacy of welfare rates and the costs of poverty and eventually the government will have to commit to stronger action to END poverty.

Kell Gerlings
Raise the Rates, Organizer

Guidelines for Participants

Thank you for agreeing to take the Challenge.

The Challenge runs for 7 days from Wednesday, November 1 to Tuesday, November 7, 2017.

During that week, participants will only eat the food they can buy with $19 dollars.

Welfare Food Challenge participants will be asked not to accept any kind of charity or other food not coming out of their $19 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 $710 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.

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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