The Welfare Food Challenge Still in the Media

Even over a month after the Food Challenge has ended, the issue of welfare rates being far too low is still being covered in the media around our province. Welfare rates leave bad taste Terrace Standard, November 24, 2014 Welfare Challenge an eye opener posted in The Kelowna Daily Courier on November 14, 2014

Continuing the Call to Raise the Rates

The 2014 Welfare Food Challenge was a huge success in raising awareness about the appallingly low income assistance rates in BC that trap people in the vicious cycle and misery of poverty. Over 180,000 people struggle to feed themselves on $21 a week. The Challenge for this year is over but the struggle continues for those on welfare and for all of us calling on the BC government to RAISE THE RATES. Please help us to pressure the government to do the right thing and make changes now. Please sign our petition,… Read More

Welfare Food Challenge Takers Call on BC Government to Raise the Rates

Here’s the letter that the participants in the 2014 Welfare Challenge wrote to Minister Don McRae and Opposition Critic, Michelle Mungall. Please write your own letter, sign the petition, and ask everyone you know to help raise the rates! Dear Don McRae (Minister for Social Development) & Michelle Mungall (Opposition Critic), As you know, over 100 people across British Columbia took part in the 3rd annual Welfare Food Challenge organized by Raise the Rates. You were invited to join the Challenge but decided not to. We, as Challenge Takers, realized before we… Read More

The 2014 Welfare Food Challenge Wraps Up

The 3rd Annual Welfare Food Challenge ended with a fantastic press conference. Read more below or download the news release (PDF). Also, view photos from the news conference on our Facebook page. And read the letter that the 2014 Challenge Takers wrote to Don McRae (Minister for Social Development) and Michelle Mungall (Opposition Critic). Raise welfare rates say Welfare Food Challenge takers The BC government should raise welfare rates and bring in a poverty reduction plan. That was the consensus of the people who took the Welfare Food Challenge, eating only what… Read More

Suzanne Johnson, Day 7

Welfare Food Challenge ¶dash; Reflecting on the week long experience I decided to participate in the Welfare Food Challenge not only to highlight issues of food insecurity but to transform my level of understanding through a real experience. I was to assume that I was starting from scratch and could eat only the food that I could purchase with $21 for the week. This meant that I could not even touch the salt & pepper shakers in my cupboards. I will admit that I was inspired by my coworker who is absolutely… Read More

Tess Healy, Day 7

I was able to buy some nuts (in bulk section) a bag of corn chips on sale, a big thing of yogurt on special and some 50% reduced baked goods – day old. I am aiming for bulk – what fills me up. I am taking a ton of creamers and sugars in the coffee (free) in the places I am going. I want all the things I can’t buy – even things I wouldn’t even want ordinarily but suddenly raspberry ginger cookies sound amazing. Last day: I have 2 dollars left…. Read More

Kate Kysow, Day 7

THE LAST day! Wow, this challenge has gone by so fast it’s crazy!  Last meal you ask?  Oatmeal of course 🙂 Today, was one of the more stressful ones with work & school & hunger all getting mixed up in a slightly too stressful combination, but at least the day is done!  Tomorrow, I get to buy coffee and meet other people on the challenge, which is super exciting. Things that I’ve learnt or experienced on the challenge: losing weight feeling anxious trying to budget in a supermarket & not being sure… Read More

Victoria Lee, Day 7

Today is the last day of the challenge and it was a tough one. I have been out all day at meetings and events and returned home past 10. It was difficult to be around so much food tonight (a huge buffet with many delicious options) even when I try to distract myself. Often people notice that you are not eating whether at social or professional gatherings and ask why, which is an opportune time to engage others and to talk about the welfare food challenge. Most can sympathize that $21/week is… Read More

Jen Muranetz, Day 7

Last day of #WelfareFoodChallenge. Here's my lunch. Still have $2 – what to spend it on? Story tmrw on @goVanTVShow

Kate Hoffard, Day 7

Day 7 – after a week on $21, I think many things have changed: my perspective, my diet, and my spending. It’s too easy to forget about about those who need help, those who we see lining up for the food bank, or those people on the street we push from our minds. Remember how many young children and families are on social assistance, and how many use the food bank. $21 is not enough money to healthily, to feed our bodies and our minds. When you’re hungry, it’s so hard to… Read More

Chantelle Sutton, Day 7

Breaky: oatmeal Lunch: I forgot my lunch on the counter at home. I almost cried/gave up. Thank god my friend at work had ramen noodles to give me (we still had one package from our budget that we had not eaten) Dinner: the plan was beans on toast (see pic below). I was NOT looking forward to this dinner. Alan liked it but bla! So I gave Alan my portion and I had my lunch of PB and banana sandwich and an apple.

Samantha Truong, Day 7

Photo of Samantha at Welfare Food Challenge booth

LAST DAY – Reflection Today was fun. I boothed at the Totem Park Commons Block where 1st years live, and engaged in dialogue with dozens of people. I also gave them the option to sign the petition to raise the rates if they were interested. What I experienced this evening was a reminder as to why we need to create awareness, and why we need to engage in dialogue to create a safe space for people to learn, make mistakes, and get thinking. Today, I had dozens of conversations with students at… Read More

Alan Yu, Day 7

October 22nd, 2014 It’s the final day of the welfare food challenge and a lot of interesting things happened as everyone probably knows in regard to the shooting in Ottawa. For this post I’ll try to stay on topic with the food challenge. Video recap below. I was thinking for today that I would drop by a different grocery store on my way home and to the supermarket as technically if the challenge was to continue I would have to buy some grocery items again. I knew one thing for sure was… Read More

Katelyn Siggelkow, Day 6

Happy Welfare Wednesday – the end of living on 3$ a day for 7 days is in sight! I enter into day 6 of the welfare challenge feeling pretty optimistic. I just restocked on groceries and still have $3 to spare! I have a lot of tofu left and a couple of eggs for protein. I’m currently making some squash soup and applesauce, I’m pretty sick of eating apples. So don’t worry mom and dad and all other concerned parties, I’m not starving. The turning point was day 3. I no longer… Read More

Tess Healy, Day 6

I know a lot of the emotional swings I am having is due to my diabetes. Normally I manage it with diet and exercise but the limitations on diet, and the lack of energy and will to exercise are exacerbating the problems. I have to travel today and all the money I have not spent will hopefully help me be able to survive a road trip. My go to food is a single bun from the bakery (27c) and a banana (31c). We ate “banana sandwiches” when I was a little girl,… Read More

Suzanne Johnson, Day 6

Well today was one of my worst days yet as far energy level and mental capacity goes. It was probably my least productive days for work as I just didn’t want to even think about thinking. Seriously I feel really dumb and wonder how well I will articulate anything. With this in mind, let’s consider that employable people living on income/social assistance should be trying to get a job, this is roughly 40% of recipients. I am not to sure that I could have convinced anyone to hire me today. Just so… Read More

Sieun Lee, Day 6

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 I wanted something savory for breakfast, so I ate a cup of the broccoli soup with 1/4 cup of steamed rice. Then I made an instant coffee like yesterday. Throughout the morning I felt dizzy and lightheaded. I ate a quarter of a bagel with 1 tablespoon of cream cheese, then half of a pluot. To fight off the constant feeling of fatigue, I ate 2 fried (without oil) eggs, and rice with a bit of soy sauce and sesame oil. I felt better soon, but in a… Read More

Alan Yu, Day 6

October 21st, 2014 What a hectic day this was as well as learning some interesting public feedback about this welfare food challenge. Sorry, rush post today as I am blogging and cooking at the same time. Video below for my day’s recap. Today was interesting as work wise I agreed to do so many things which kept me busy all day. For one of the work I did, as mentioned yesterday meals were provided to people and this is what my friend got just as an example of the food I could… Read More

Welfare is $1000 below the Poverty Line

Welfare is $1000 below the Poverty Line. To survive in BC, you need a full basket of good food; But on Welfare, you get less than half.

It’s no wonder that most of our participants are feeling pretty low-energy and getting a bit cranky… Read their posts and their personal blogs/tweets/instagrams to read how some of them are doing! Check out our Facebook page!

Check out the Media Coverage

Raise the Rates is pleased to see that the media is paying attention to this critical issue. See the list of articles and stories that have been published about the Welfare Food Challenge before and during the campaign. Thanks again to all of you amazing participants who are helping raise awareness in BC (and beyond) to let everyone know that $610 a month for an individual living on social assistance in BC is much too low and that the BC government needs to RAISE THE RATES!

Kate Hoffard, Day 6

Day 6 was a challenge because it was a busy day, and I was so hungry by the time I got home; it was hard to wait 45 minutes to make my lentils while my tummy grumbled. The challenge with a small budget and minimal time is that it’s easier and certainly cheaper to eat Kraft Dinner instead of brown rice and lentils. It seems unfair for those on social assistance to not be able eat a healthy diet, and survive on ramen noodles, especially when they already have enough challenges. My… Read More

Chantelle Sutton, Day 6

Food: oatmeal, PB sandwich, apple, Banana, popcorn, eggs and a bit of broccoli (what was left) Mood: tired (I have a toddler who was up multiple times in the night), cranky, disinterested in my boring food, and my body feels like crap. I miss fiber (tmi?) Glad it is all over tomorrow! Night!

Samantha Truong, Day 6

Wow, was today ever a great day for awareness – this project was published in 3 different newspapers! I AM SO HAPPY! The 24 hour newspaper: The Georgia Straight: and The Talon UBC: I will also have a 30 minute show with the CiTR 101.9FM @4pm on Thursday October 23! Tune in!

Chantelle Sutton, Day 5

Oatmeal for breaky, PB sandwich and an apple for lunch (I forgot my banana at home, I was so upset), KD and the rest of our broccoli for dinner. I’m getting used to not eating much but I think the lack of nutritious food is getting to me. My energy is low and to be honest, I’m cranky. I’m ready for this to be over. The sad part is, for so many this is there life. It doesn’t end in a week.

Vanessa Brcic, Day 5

Hanging on to the #welfarefoodchallenge My clinical, community, and research work revolves around the relationship between poverty and health. I am privileged to hear the stories of patients who are struggling. I get it, I think to myself, and I’m committed to making a change. Do I need to do the welfare food challenge to help me do this? Probably not. But perhaps I can learn something. On day 1 of the food challenge, I had a commitment to speak at the BC Renal Agency annual conference on the topic of poverty… Read More

Tammy Battersby, Day 5

What a challenge and how many times I have failed simply because, unlike those living in these situations full time, I have availability of food. I am grateful for the heightened compassion for the plight of others, for the conversation that this challenge has inspired and for the comments of those who come to the Blessings Pantry to shop. As mentioned in the links I am irritable dizzy, wanting to isolate but feeling left out. My work duties are suffering and this is no fun. Conclusion = We as a society are… Read More

Irene Lanzinger, Day 5

It is Day 5 of the welfare food challenge. I meant to communicate at the half way point through Twitter, Facebook and a blog post. I managed the first two and here is the blog post a few days late. I am definitely counting the days until it is over – two more sleeps. I have never been so aware of the cost of food. I have lived with my partner, Lee, for more than thirty years. When we first got together our division of labour was that he did the grocery… Read More

Victoria Lee, Day 5

I am feeling better today (recovering slowly but surely). It’s a lot easier to be at work, back to back meetings, intriguing conversations/discussions and public health emergencies to keep me busy from thinking about what my next meal looks like and far away from my pantry full of food. It’s encouraging to know that there is a large group of “Welfare Food Challenge Takers” this year going through similar experiences of mundane foods, hunger, and lethargy with only $21 to spend on food over 7 days. It’s deeply disturbing to know that… Read More

Victor Elkins, Day 5

Photo of Victor's meals

Day 5 of the $21 welfare food challenge. Food is running low!

Sieun Lee, Day 5

Monday, October 20, 2014 Breakfast with 2 tablespoons of the Greek yogurt, 10 Shreddies, and 10 blueberries. Since I am unable to afford the 40-cent coffee, I am trying a couple of different instant coffees. Roommate let me try her “Make 260 Coffees or More” Nescafe Rich instant coffee. It was not bad and cost 7 cents. Morning snack was 7 chestnuts. For lunch, I had 1.5 cup of steamed rice with 1 cup of broccoli soup. The soup actually came out a bit salty, and good to dunk a dollop of… Read More

Tanja Cvekic, Day 5

From Had to quit #welfarefoodchallenge over wknd. Not enough nutrients, felt weak & hungry. @RaisetheRates #bcpoverty Living off $21/week healthily = hours of planning groceries & meals. Even so, not likely. #welfarefoodchallenge #bcpoverty @RaisetheRates

Suzanne Johnson, Day 5

Monday, 20 October 2014 So many things to write about today. As I struggle with the boredom of food and the extreme lack of flavour and as I desperately try to make something taste good on this $21/week diet I can’t help but think about the single mother of three who because of her high rate of rent actually had only 78 dollars per month to feed her family of four. At the same time, I am working at one of my part time jobs as a Healthy School Coordinator with which… Read More

Stacey Tyers, Day 5

#welfarefoodchallenge I have enough food,I'm so sick of it, it makes me not want to eat. Guh. #raisetherates campaigning sucks hungry. It takes an incredible amount of energy and patience to help people in poverty, it takes significantly more to live it. #raisetherates

Jen Muranetz, Day 5

Housemate made an epic meal of deep fried perogies & homemade French fries. Can't eat it… #WelfareFoodChallenge

Katelyn Siggelkow

Photo of Katelyn Siggelkow

I recently moved to the downtown eastside of Vancouver to learn from and experience the values, strengths and needs of this unique, diverse neighbourhood. I have been inspired by my many new friends here who live meaningful lives on a meagre welfare budget. I embarked on this challenge in solidarity with these friends and neighbours. To better understand their struggle, and to advocate for raising the welfare rates, I have committed to living on 3$ a day for 7 days. Here are the bogs I have written so far about my experience:… Read More

Tess Healy, Day 5

Too tired and getting depressed, very weepy so I don’t have a diary for day 4. I have had a couple of occasions (one yesterday and one today) where food has been supplied at a meeting, and at these meetings I have overeaten, eaten things I don’t even like and taken food away with me. My embarrassment that people would think me greedy did not last long. I was too hungry to care. I even went into the kitchen and begged for a coffee before the meeting started and before the coffee… Read More

Samantha Truong, Day 5

Food I did some cooking in the kitchen, and the photo with all the containers is all the food I will be eating until the end of my challenge. I am quite pleased with my “casserole” – it consists of shredded potatoes, carrots, broccoli, and tomato paste. And half an hour in the oven, I also baked some potato chucks and tossed it in there to get some variety in texture! For dinner, I had instant noodles – this time I used my veggie broth remainder to boil the noodles in, rather… Read More

Kate Hoffard, Day 5

Day 5 – hungry and slow today, but the best news is I’ve realized I’ll have enough food for the week! I’ll have enough lentils and apples. For breakfast was apple cinnamon oatmeal (again), and leftovers from last night for lunch (brown rice, lentils, and spinach). I had some peanuts for a snack – forgot to take a picture. Dinner was caramelized onions and cabbage, and a lentil dahl with cilantro and garlic. As an explanation, I’m taking 3rd Annual #WelfareFoodChallenge, from Oct 16-22, organized by @raisetherates2014 to raise welfare rates; BC’s… Read More

Alan Yu, Day 5

October 21st, 2014 What a hectic day this was as well as learning some interesting public feedback about this welfare food challenge. Sorry, rush post today as I am blogging and cooking at the same time. Video below for my day’s recap. Today was interesting as work wise I agreed to do so many things which kept me busy all day. For one of the work I did, as mentioned yesterday meals were provided to people and this is what my friend got just as an example of the food I could… Read More

Letter from Bif Naked to Don McRae • Write your letter!

Have you written to the Premier, Christy Clark, the Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation, Don McRae, the Leader of the Opposition, John Horgan, or your provincial MLA – asking the Provincial Government to raise welfare rates in BC? You can find their contact information here: and there’s a sample letter on our Take Action page. Now would be a great time to do it, as many people are doing this during the Welfare Food Challenge! Here is what Bif Naked wrote in her letter! To The Honourable Don McRae,… Read More

Daily Recap Day 4

Over 100 people are participating in the Welfare Food Challenge this year. Here’s a challenge to us all: Let’s make this week count. Sign our petition and ask your friends to do the same. Write to your MLAs. Join the Raise the Rates listserv (by contacting Bill at and come to our meetings in Vancouver. Organize in your communities and help make the movement for welfare rates people can survive on grow.

Kate Kysow, Day 4

Making banana pancakes Today, I got creative with the food I have left. In the morning, I made banana pancakes with 2 eggs & 1 banana and topped them with brown sugar and then for dinner, I made fried rice and baked some potatoes in the oven. It was pretty tasty, apart from lacking in sauces/spices. I’m realizing the only reason I’m able to succeed at this challenge is become I have a kitchen! If it weren’t for the microwave/stove/oven/fridge, I’m really not sure what I’d eat, but it definitely wouldn’t be… Read More

Victoria Lee, Days 2-4

I have been fighting off a cold since late last week… It’s been nagging on and I’m still struggling with it and in bed this weekend. Having access to nutritious and healthy foods is not only important for preventing disease and maintaining health but also for recovering from illness. One of the reasons why Canadian Medical Association’s report on Health Care in Canada ( concluded that poverty is the most important factor when it comes to determining whether Canadians live long, and healthy lives.

Alan Yu, Day 4

October 19th, 2014 Casual day of research was the theme today. Video below for my day’s recap. I didn’t physically go to stores to look at prices today. Instead, I casually looked online for some potential deals and pricing history for certain items. For the can of sardine I was potentially thinking of buying on the last day the cheapest I found was a two for $1 sale. Why is this important? I think you need to have good knowledge on how cheap an item can potentially get for you to better… Read More

Dr. Danielle Duplassie

Photo fo Danielle Duplassie

I’m doing this challenge because I grew up in substantial poverty… and am one of the few people who have managed to get out of the poverty cycle. When I heard how low the rates were for social assistance in this province, my heart sunk. How is a person expected to be a fully functioning individual while living off so little. I’m doing this Challenge to bring awareness about the issue of poverty… and to bring my personal experience to the forefront so that I can help educate people about the complexities… Read More

Shila Avissa & Anna Brisco

Photo of Shila and Anna

We’re in this together! Shila Avissa I’m an international student at UBC studying Bachelor’s of Social Work. Anna Brisco I’m a student at UBC Dietetics.

Sieun Lee, Day 4

Sunday October 19 For breakfast, I had 1 cup of soy milk with 10 Shreddies and 10 roasted black beans. During the morning I slowly ate 1/2 of the baked sweet potato. Lunch was 1/4 of an Everything bagel, 1/4 cup of steamed rice, and 1.5 cup of broccoli soup. In the afternoon I went to Costco for a price check and to GardenWorks. This time, I carried the half of the sweet potato in a container and a water bottle. Being in a crowded Costco and immersing myself in the stupefying… Read More

Brittany Goud

Photo of Brittany Goud

I currently live in Victoria, BC, though I am originally from Yellowknife, NT. I will be taking the challenge in solidarity and in allying with my clients. I am an articling student at The Law Centre in Victoria, BC. The Law Centre provides legal assistance to individuals who cannot afford a lawyer. Many of our clients are welfare recipients making their best efforts to get by on the current rates. I see people so busy surviving, they are left with little time or hope to change their positions. Though I can sympathize… Read More

Gent Family, Day 4

Hitting Halfway, and top-up day Kids enjoyed popcorn and sugar water at home last night while we were out, thankfully didn’t eat all the food, but we’re now grappling with how to allocate the $25 holdback we kept from our initial shopping trip. Jen hit the dollar store this morning, found a multi-spice pkg (whoo hoo!) , more jam, more pasta, and some Honey Nut Cheerios lobbied from the children – all for $6.25. I’ll head out for another 10lbs of apples, milk, margarine and eggs at the Buy Low to get… Read More

Lou Black, Day 4

The day I surrendered… In the morning I barely got breakfast down, in fact, I couldn’t eat all of it despite being hungry. I was so sick of eating the same food – it had became repulsive to me. I biked soon after, and noticed my body definitely didn’t feel as strong as usual. I made it through my ride, ate snacks along the way, and ate as much as I could when I got home, but by late afternoon I was feeling really weak. I decided to give up the challenge…. Read More

Michelle Huang, Day 4

October 19, 2014 Welfare Rate of $610 & Public Safety Welfare rate of $610 is not only a sentence to life in poverty, but also increase health risks for the recipients and public safety. Government is trying to win your vote by promising to cut social spending. What you do not realize is that you and your wealth family could be indirectly impacted by this budget cut!!! It’s true that you rich corporations and wealthy families may never be touched by poverty, disabilities or mental illnesses. What you don’t realize is that… Read More

Christopher Porter and Emily Beam, Day 4

Welfare Food Challenge – Surviving but not Thriving (posted by Christopher) We’re halfway done the Welfare Food Challenge and it is no longer smooth sailing. Our fresh produce is going bad but we can’t afford to replace it; I’m bored of rice and beans and oatmeal; and both Emily and I are feeling tired and sluggish, so there’s likely a nutritional deficiency in our diet. The hardest part of the challenge has been socializing with friends and not being able to eat the food they offer. Last night I had to resist… Read More

Samantha Truong, Day 4

Food I did some cooking in the kitchen. Lunches consist of raw carrots, broccoli, celery, a few chunks of baked potato, and a boiled egg. My dinner is pasta with canned tomato sauce and canned chickpeas. I decided to boil some of my veggies to spice things up. I saved the broth that remained when boiling my veggies, because I plan to re-heat this and cook my instant noodles in it for some more nutrients – because instant noodles just isn’t enough. Spreading the awareness Today I was interviewed by the 24… Read More

Jen Muranetz, Day 4

Made homemade chicken noodle soup today. Absolute luxury. Back to rice tmrw, tho… #WelfareFoodChallenge

Tara-lee Gardner

Photo of Tara-lee Gardner

I am of Sto:lo first nations ancestry. I have grown up and lived in Vancouver my whole life and can’t imagine living anywhere else. I am a graduate of the Northwest Coast Jewellery Arts Program taken at Native Education College and now have a fulfilling career in silversmithing. I am taking this challenge because I was raised by a single mother on welfare. So I know first hand how important it is for BC to raise the rates. $21/week for food is not enough. Growing up I tried to hide my poverty… Read More

Suzanne Johnson, Day 4

Sunday, 19 October 2014 I ate another apple today, it was the bomb! I still have a headache and my appetite is suppressed now. It was not problem to go from eating two pieces of toast at 8:00 am until 12:30 before I snacked on an apple and then about 2:00 when I had some lunch. I mixed the last of my beans mixed with tomatoes (I still have plain beans) with a packaged of the ramen noodles and was only able to eat half of the plate. I normally could have… Read More

Chantelle Sutton, Day 4

Food for today… ICE CREAM! Well to be completely honest it was 1/2 an ice cream cone because Alan and I shared it. We had just shy of $2 left in our budget and we fully intended to go buy some more broccoli. But then today was a beautiful day and I went to a baby shower that had amazing yummy food I couldn’t eat (mmmm cheeseball!) and we went for a family walk that passes right by McD… so we gave up the healthy broccoli for one shared ice cream. And… Read More

Kate Kysow, Day 3

An Apple treat

The last $2.50 Today, I went to Young Brothers market with my remaining $2.50. I knew I wanted 3 sweet potatoes and 3 more bananas, but had no idea how much that would cost. All the prices are per pound, but that doesn’t really mean anything to me. I gingerly went to the counter with my 6 items and hoped they wouldn’t cost more than $2.50. Luckily, they didn’t! I even had enough to buy 3 carrots, 1 onion, and as a “treat” 1 apple. I was so excited I walked out… Read More

Lou Black, Day 3

I’m sick of rice and I think I officially hate lentils. I have a 1/4 of the margarine left, 5 eggs, 1/2 the rice, hardly any cheese, and a LOT of lentils. Headed to a party soon, will be drinking ginger tea and avoiding the snack table….

Bif Naked, Day 3

In gratitude I eat my one, small bowl. #onebowlperday #RAISETHERATES @raisetherates2014 Amen.

Sieun Lee, Day 3

Saturday, October 18, 2014 For breakfast, I had a cup of soy milk with 20 Shreddies and 20 roasted black beans, and felt pretty full. I think my stomach is shrinking. For the mid-morning snack, I ate the last quarter of the Fuji apple from yesterday. Lunch at noon: a cup of steamed rice, and 1/5 of sweet and spicy tofu. During the early afternoon, a labmate offered me an After Eight. Together we calculated one After Eight mint chocolate thin cost approximately 7 cents. This was not too bad. I took… Read More

Kate Hoffard, Day 4

Day 4 – today I was hungry and had headaches, which I think were because of my low blood sugar. It was tough too because I attended a birthday party with lots of yummy snacks and delicious looking cake. Wanted to cheat, but didn’t. The will is strong but I’m feeling weak and hungry. For breakfast, more apple cinnamon oatmeal (monotony has set in). Lunch was more falafel with an apple relish, followed by a snack of hot milky tea and peanuts. For dinner, the last of the falafel with a pilaf… Read More

Chantelle Sutton, Day 3

Today was hard. We re-evaluated our food options and realized we wouldn’t make it to Wed dinner. Another trip to Walmart (I didn’t buy everything up front because I figured I would have to change some things). To make matters worse….I did my math wrong below (I think I forgot to add the coffee in) so I was actually over by $2.37! We took out the veggie burgers (luxury item!), dropped the milk to 1L, switched out a can of soup for 4 packs of Ramen noodles (those are super cheap!), added… Read More

Gent Family, Day 3

Not enjoying a beer at a Sloan concert… seems a fairly modest sacrifice, and low on the list of tragedies befalling someone down on their luck, but I found myself actually more upset about this missed opportunity than many others during the challenge thus far. Jen and I had tickets to see the band Sloan at the Commodore last night, something we had planned for a while, and not food, so we attended, still recognizing that this is not the sort of opportunity someone on income assistance would ever consider on the… Read More

Tara-lee Gardner, Day 3

Skipped breakfast cause I didn’t feel like cream of wheat again. Lunch is chickpeas, celery, pickles and mustard spread on toast. #welfarefoodchallenge #raisetherates #vegansofig

Jen Muranetz, Day 3

Pasta: $.54, Salt: $.02, Garlic Powder: $.09, Chicken Soup Base: $.16, Tea: $1.98 #welfarefoodchallenge #bulkfood #welfarefoodchallenge #bulkfood

Tess Healy, Day 3

All I seem to think about is food. And I feel crabby and irritable. Why does my partner put dishes away higgledy-piggledy? All the freaking time! That is not me and do I ever really care about how dishes are stacked? No. I am becoming someone I don’t like much. I was going to go to the food bank but my partner said that would be taking food from people who really needed it and to find out what the food bank was giving and she would be my food bank and… Read More

Alan Yu, Day 3

October 18th, 2014 “Son of a…..” is what kind of crossed my mind today with some stuff I saw. Video below for my day’s recap for those who prefer it. I included some other interesting stuff I saw today in the video too. There was an obstacle today as I had to head out the door earlier than I thought. As a result, I wasn’t able to prepare my regular breakfast. Therefore, I only had an apple. That’s the main negative of being on a budget as many times we tend to… Read More

Samantha Truong, Day 3

Today, I ate breakfast and dinner, but no lunch. I ran out of time to cook pasta in the kitchen, so I skipped lunch and drank a cup of almond milk instead. This did not help with the hunger. One thing I have realized is how much time it takes to save money. I am so used to lining up 5 minuets for a sandwich at the nearest fast food joint – having to bus off campus to buy groceries and then cook my meals can easily take four to six hours… Read More

Katelyn Siggelkow, Day 2

Living on $3/day for 7 days When I am barred from the freedom of consuming food every moment, every moment is consumed by food. It rules me in a way I hate to admit. Now, I find myself dwelling on how hungry and irritable I am, on this persistent headache that I am still denying is a result of caffeine withdrawal, on scheming when I can get me next meal, and scheming hacks that are still within the bounds of the rules of this challenge. My latest idea is if I buy… Read More

Suzanne Johnson, Day 3

Saturday, 18 October 2014 – Why $21 Today I feel a little better than I have the first two days. I still have a headache but its not as bad as it was yesterday. My mind doesn’t feel like its functioning quite right and my stomach is not particularly happy, let’s just say that I am totally aware that it is there. I was super happy to purchase four spartan apples with the remaining money (0.95) at the fruit stand in Trout Creek. They had the best price per pound being a… Read More

Kate Hoffard, Day 3

Day 3 marked the reintroduction of tea into my life, and it was such a blessing. I had a tiny pinch of loose-leaf tea with with apple cinnamon oatmeal at breakfast (forgot to take a photo before I dug in, hence the half eaten bowl). I saved the small amount for a second cup of tea after lunch; much weaker, and not my usual practice, but it was tea all the same. This week is about compromise. Lunch was a spice-roasted warm chickpea and apple salad with cilantro. For dinner, I got… Read More

Chantelle Sutton, Day 2

On my way into my office this morning I see this: a woman packing up her bedding after spending the night in a covered back door of a business. I know her. She is the girlfriend of one of my clients. I said hi and she happily gave my dog some love. And it got me thinking, with her $21 a week she can’t buy instant oatmeal or Kraft dinner because where is she going to cook it? I highly doubt she had a camping stove and propane tucked into her grocery… Read More

Gent Family, Day 2

By Derek Gent Mood shifted to a much more positive one at tonight’s event, maybe feeling a bit self righteous, maybe listening to the wonderful David Beers from the Tyee as emcee for the Real Estate Foundation Land Awards Gala, or Peter Mansbridge as keynote. I was struck by the number of folks I saw at the dinner last night being celebrated for achievements I see as celebration worthy. Sean Dory from Sole Foods was all suited up, as was Ilana Labow from Fresh Roots, the hard working volunteers from Cowichan Green… Read More

Jay-Ann Gilfoy

Jay-Ann Gilfoy is a Senior Vice President at Vancity Savings Credit Union. Her current responsibilities include leading a transformation program including the replacement of Vancity’s core banking system. Jay-Ann has held executive positions and leadership roles in organizational development, change leadership and business transformation in financial services, government and private sector. She is a Human Resource professional by training and designation with many years of senior HR experience. Jay-Ann is passionate about health, leadership and family. Why I’m taking the challenge Health is truly the foundation of our communities and it starts… Read More

Chantelle Sutton

Photo of Chantelle Sutton

I am a criminal defence lawyer in Victoria and many of my clients are on welfare. I am taking this challenge to, at least in part, experience a week like they might. My husband is also doing the challenge with me.

Jacqueline Stein

Photo of Jacqueline Stein

I’ve always considered myself to be a community-oriented individual and have been cognizant of the fact that, irrespective of economic status, we share these spaces and therefore must look out for the best interest of one another. And, yet, I tend to be rather mindless with my food spending. A fancy latte here, a pricey juice there… when you know where your next meal is coming from or, more importantly, that you have one coming, it’s easy to overlook the privilege that comes with a full plate of food. I’m participating in… Read More

Sieun Lee, Day 2

Friday, October 17, 2014 Breakfast: 2 tbsp of strawberry Greek yogurt with 10 pcs Shreddies, 10 frozen blueberries, and 10 roasted black beans. I buy a ton of blueberries in summer and freeze them in Ziploc bags. Mom sends me roasted black beans from Korea. I made coffee like yesterday. Mid-morning snack was a quarter of a small cantaloupe and 10 more of the roasted black beans. Lunch was a cup of steamed rice and a cup of pineapple pork, a leftover from few days ago. I had chopped up a piece… Read More

Tara-lee Gardner, Day 2

Plain cream of wheat for breakfast. No seasoning or fruit cause I couldn’t afford it and I make extra for lunch #welfarefoodchallenge #raisetherates #vegansofinstagram Lentils and mixed veggies. No salt or seasonings. #welfarefoodchallenge #raisetherates #vegansofig

Lou Black, Day 2

My low laying virus resurfaced today. It bites to not be able to go to my usual comfort foods and drinks for being sick. Lentils, eggs, and rice are starting to get boring already. It makes me aware of the degree to which food is a source of entertainment and comfort for me, unlike the basic sustenance role it plays in many people’s lives. A good way to be reminded of my privilege…

Kate Kysow, Day2

Headaches kicking in Made it to Day 2 and was excited for breakfast! I had a microwave mug cake of oats, banana, an egg, and brown sugar. It was good…but lacking in coffee. I didn’t think coffee was such a part of my routine, but with two days and not having any, I miss it a lot! There’s something about standing in line at a café and getting a nice, warm cup of coffee that really brightens up a typical day. It makes me sad to think people on welfare don’t get… Read More

Bif Naked, Day 2

I would like to thank all of you, from my entire heart, for sharing our story about Raise the Rates BC “Welfare Food Challenge” that has just started, (and will continue into next week) and I am extremely humbled by your attention. There are MANY OTHER PEOPLE participating in this effort, and I encourage you to get to know them at I am completely blown away by the amount of comments, and want you to know I am ever grateful. The dialogue created is important to us, it’s compelling and engaging,… Read More

Tess Healy, Day 2

I have yet to spend any money on food. I am afraid to spend it. Once it is gone, it is gone. I am a very honest person, growing up in England, if we found a sixpence on the street we had to put it in the poor box in church. We were the poor so I could never understand why we didn’t just keep it. I know now that the very public depositing of the money declared we were not poor (even though we were) and that claiming that pride meant… Read More

Alan Yu, Day 2

October 17th, 2014 Today was an interesting day as it got me thinking if I should return an item for what seems to be a better deal.  As usual, watch my video below for my day’s recap for those who prefer it. Shopping knowledge was the big theme for me today as many times I found myself finding great deals but at the same time I was lacking the knowledge of what would be the best value diet wise in conjunction with cost.  As mentioned before, stores usually change its prices today… Read More

Samantha Truong, Day 2

  Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. Friday was an eventful day. I woke up at 8:00am and ate my oatmeal. By 10:00am, I was already very hungry because my oatmeal was not very filling. So I began to eat my lunch at 10:00am. With no dipping sauce or salt, my lunch was very flavourless, and I actually only ate half of it because I didn’t like the taste. I would have rather been hungry then to eat my vegetables. And that says something on its own – I mean, I imagine those that… Read More

Suzanne Johnson, Day 2

Making It Last – Friday, 17 October 2014 I attended a meeting last night in which a meal was served and because we have so many good cooks in the community, I was anxious to see what was being served and what I would be missing. When I saw that it was a delicious elk stew with green salad and baked bannock, I knew I would be missing a good meal and quickly tried to duck out of the way to let others get closer to the table. I said “Oh go… Read More

Kate Hoffard, Day 2

Day 2 went fairly well – I think I’m getting into a rhythm. I had the same breakfast as yesterday, apple cinnamon oatmeal. Lunch was leftover rice and chickpea pilaf with cilantro. My snack was also the same – an apple and some peanuts. For dinner, I made a caramelized onion and cabbage soup with chickpeas. I’m out this evening, drinking only water. I’d love a glass of wine, but that will have to wait for next week. There’s no room for indulgences on $21. As an explanation, I’m taking 3rd Annual… Read More

Jen Muranetz, Day 2

Meals are looking the same already, lots of rice & eggs. My recap of #welfarefoodchallenge next Thurs on @goVanTVShow

Katelyn Siggelkow, Day 1

Returning home from a family trip to Ontario late on Thursday evening, I was greeted by a neighbour who had come over with his son to welcome me home and gift us with a “last supper”. Confused at the doom in his voice as he served these last words like a life-sentence, I looked to my roommates for an explanation. They laughed nervously, hesitant to break the news that starting the next morning, we’d be embarking on the Welfare Food Challenge. For the next seven days, we’d have a budget of 21$… Read More

Victoria Lee, Day 1

I was glad to be able to join the media event today. It was great to see so many people supporting this important cause. I have lost some sleep trying to plan out my meals for this week. I am concerned about maintaining some resemblance of healthy eating. I did pretty well today with some greens and eggs… I noticed that opportunities to socialize personally and professionally are disappearing quickly as I am trying not to expose myself to temptations that will be too difficult to resist!

Kate Kysow, Day 1

photo of Kate Kysow's 2014 welfare food challenge shopping

Budget shopping at the grocery store! Day 1 has kicked off for the 3rd Annual Welfare Food Challenge! This morning I woke up and went to my local No Frills as I thought they would be the best place for cheap-ish food. Before starting to choose items, I walked through the aisles looking at how much everything cost. I must have looked like a lost puppy because every time I met someone they gave me a look like ‘are you okay, honey?’ Anyways, once I started to shop I actually felt optimistic!… Read More

Bif Naked, Day 1

As we acknowledge our abundant blessings TODAY, on World Food Day, I am starting my Raise the Rates BC Welfare Food Challenge, where I will eat from what I can buy myself with $21.00 FOR THE WHOLE WEEK. The photos I have included show you the types of things I sometimes eat as a strong, healthy vegan individual (see Bif’s Facebook page). The photo with the papaya (and handfuls of organic spinach, organic cucumber, 4 organic zucchinis, 4 organic bananas, vegan protein powder, hempseeds, pea shoots, almonds, 2 organic Roma tomatoes, and… Read More

Christopher Porter and Emily Beam, Day 1

Day 1 We survived Day 1 of the Welfare Food Challenge. There are lots of interesting people blogging and tweeting about their experiences. I’ve been surprised to see a number of people buying cans of beans. Obviously more convenient, but a lot more expensive than dried beans. After Day 1, I feel well fed but gassy. I guess eating a lot of beans will do that. Breakfast was a simple but filling meal of oatmeal, half a banana, and a spoonful of sugar. Lunch was rice, lentils, tomatoes, and a few carrots. We made way… Read More

Stacey Tyers, Day 1

@raisetheratesbc I already failed. I spent 21.07.abd didn't have any more recent time to decide what else to get rid of

Gent Family, Day 1

Start of Day 1 Jen We started the day early this morning, chopped apples, carrots and onions, put on porridge, checked the soaking beans and rising bread. This is Day 1 of our week long food welfare challenge. To make the most of our $105 we’ve spent a great deal of time planning and prepping for this week. I think planning and searching out food for one’s family could be a part time job. Let alone the time necessary to prepare these less expensive options. I could be accused of spending too… Read More

Tess Healy, Day 1

It is four hours into day one and I wish I had thought more about this challenge and how to do it before accepting it. I seem consumed with fear right now that I won’t be able to do it right. My overwhelming thought, though, is how do people cope on $3 a day for food? I haven’t eaten anything yet because what I would normally eat would blow the day’s budget. My capacity to stop in to Tim Horton’s for a coffee and bagel because I am running late and need… Read More

Chantelle Sutton, Day 1

Day 1! World Food Day It feels weird to start anything on a Thursday. Mondays are the day to begin new diets/exercise plans/goals. But it does make sense to begin this journey on World Food Day. So I spent a good portion of last night, lying in bed, trying to revamp my food choices to add more food and more veggies. I realized the Veggie Burgers have to go and maybe I can find a cheaper the bag of apples. If you know me well, you know that I don’t cook. I… Read More

Alan Yu, Day 1

October 16th, 2014 Here we go! First day of the BC welfare food challenge. If you prefer to watch me go through my experience using video instead you can click play here: For everyone else, read on. For those who don’t know, the purpose of this challenge is to demonstrate how people on welfare income assistance can barely make ends meat with the current provided funds of $610 per month. After all your other expenses are covered, it is stated that a person has about $21 a week left for food. The… Read More

Samantha Truong, Day 1

10:30am: I had some instant oatmeal, a box of Quaker oats that was on sale for $2.47, which included ten packets. This comes to 25 cents for breakfast. This was physically not very filling, but mentally it satisfied me and lasted me up until 3:00pm. 3:00pm – 6:00pm: that’s another story. I was hungry – more like “hangry” – while I was grocery shopping. 6:00pm: When I got home, I way too hungry to go in the kitchen and make something, so I boiled a kettle of water and made myself a… Read More

Tanja Cvekic, Day 1

Cranky without coffee, but doesn’t fit $21/week welfare food budget. #welfarefoodchallenge #bcpoverty Felt food envy @ lunch seeing what others ate & comparing to my (tasty but small) chickpea-apple salad. #welfarefoodchallenge #bcpoverty Limit on my food budget made me food obsessed today. Without food security how can you think about anything else? #bcpoverty @RaisetheRates

Kate Hoffard, Day 1

Starting today, I will be participating in the 3rd Annual Welfare Food Challenge, organized by Raise the Rates. Raise the Rates is a coalition of community groups and organizations concerned with the level of poverty and homelessness in British Columbia, calling on government to raise welfare rates; rates in BC have been stagnant for more than 7 years. The challenge runs for 7 days from Thursday, October 16 to Wednesday, October 22, 2014. During that week, participants will only eat the food they can buy with $21 dollars. Why $21? Total monthly… Read More

Suzanne Johnson, Day 1

A $21 Food Budget – Day 1 Welfare Food Challenge Today is my first day of the Welfare Food Challenge. Luckily our food budget is solely for food. As you can see in the first photo, although the Penticton Indian Band community is close to town compared to many other reserves in BC, it is still about a 10K drive. On check day, some members who cannot access rides to town from family will pay $30 one way for a cab ride to town to buy groceries. It would take an hour… Read More

Tara-lee Gardner, Day 1

$21/wk for food is not enough #welfarefoodchallenge #raisetherates @raisetherates #vanpoli #bcpoli

Lou Black, Day 1

$ 21 bought me: 4 cups of oats, 4 cups of lentils, 6 cups of rice, small can of salsa, 2 tomatoes, 1 head of garlic, 5 bananas, 1 orange, 75 grams feta, 1 dozen eggs 1 block of tofu, small square of margarine I was up past my bedtime cooking last night and am tired today. There’s no eating at restaurants or getting take out this week so I had to have some ready to eat food for work. I think I might be bored of rice already. I’m salivating going… Read More

Day 1

What a great launch! Check out the photos on our Facebook page. With more info about what happened in our news release. Check out posts from our participants on our site and on their personal blogs!

Alan Yu

Photo of Alan Yu

I am from Vancouver, BC with a huge interest in technology, entertainment and the arts. Finance has always been a close topic to me which is a big factor on why I began blogging about it. (You can read more details at I love sharing information and knowledge that I discover on a daily basis in hopes to help others. I am taking the challenge because I consider myself an extremely thrifty and frugal shopper where initially the dollar amount of $21 a week doesn’t scare me. However, I recognize that… Read More

Bif Naked

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My Name is Bif Naked, and I am Taking The Welfare Food Challenge. I’m an International Recording Artist, Activist, and Volunteer, humbly and gratefully living in unceded Coast Salish Territory. I decided to take the “Welfare Food Challenge” partly because it was socio-politically important to me, and partly because I think it’s important to fight injustice and use my voice. And, the reality is: welfare rates in this province are simply inadequate. And that is an injustice. My parents were Civil Rights Activists and we were raised with Freedom Fighting in our… Read More

Breenz Cic

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I work in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver as an employment counsellor and have many clients on Income Assistance. I have also been on I.A for 1 month while I was in treatment years ago. My rent was $375 and I still had to go to the food bank so I could have half decent food to eat and this was back in 2008.

Christopher Porter and Emily Beam

Photo of Christopher Porter & Emily Beam2

We are a married couple living in Southeast False Creek who are passionate about a number of environmental and social justice causes including addressing climate change, improving cycling infrastructure, and reducing poverty. We live a pretty simple lifestyle, but do enjoy splurging on food. We’re both vegan and buy local, organic food whenever possible. We joined the Welfare Food Challenge as an opportunity to help raise awareness about BC’s ridiculously low welfare rates. We hope the experience is more than just an exercise in self-sacrifice but also an opportunity to reconnect with… Read More

Samantha Truong, Prep for the Challenge

October 15, 2014 – WHY AM I DOING THIS? October 1st, 2014 – I was in my dorm room, reading chapter six of my social work textbook titled Social Welfare in Canada: Understanding Income Security. My whatsapp app was buzzing every two minutes, because my sis chat group was talking about a family member who is in a transition house with her three year-old daughter for many complicated, structural, oppressing, and intersecting issues. My social work TA – whose name I still do not know – presented this welfare food challenge to… Read More

Donna Brady Fields

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Donna moved to Cranbrook in 1995 from northern Alberta where she had lived and worked for 20 years. She has always been passionate about community and the responsibility of every person playing a part in making it the best that it can be for everyone. As a mother and grandmother, wanting to make community and the world a better place for all is a high priority. Donna began working for United Way Cranbrook in January 2006. Working with a small non-profit with limited resources has been challenging, but with many rewards. Community… Read More

Darcy Victor

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I am a Ministry of Children and Family Development employee (probation officer and a family consultant) in the East Kootenay. I am doing the challenge in 2014 as motivation to help make change in our community. The challenge will allow me the opportunity to experience what so many of my clients tell me about – the struggles and stresses about food that they endure on a daily basis. Just shopping for groceries for the challenge was stressful enough on a budget of $21.00 and I worry about running out of food before… Read More

Derek Gent + Family

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Derek Gent has committed to take the Welfare Food Challenge together with his wife, Jennifer and their three children, Talula (12), Amelia (10) and Gus (9). In his day job, Derek is Executive Director of the Vancity Community Foundation, an arms-length charity associated with Vancity Credit Union in Vancouver, and he serves on several nonprofit Boards, including the coordinating committee for First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition as well as the Living Wage Campaign. The family lives in East Vancouver, where the kids all attend public school and they are… Read More

Emma Katchur-Marsh

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I live in Parksville on Vancouver Island, and I go to Ballenas Secondary School. I’m in grade 12 and I am a member of our school’s Civics Actions group (around five of us at my school are doing the challenge). I’m participating in order to raise awareness about the working poor in our community, which is a problem many of our students don’t even know exists. All the best to you.

Irene Lanzinger

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I am a long-time union activist and teacher. I began my teaching career in 1978 and have taught in Abbotsford and Vancouver. I also travelled overseas and taught in Japan and Saudi Arabia. I was very active in the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, serving as President of my local, the Vancouver Secondary Teachers’ Association from 1997 to 2000. I was a negotiator on numerous provincial bargaining teams and acted as co-chief negotiator for the public school teachers in the province. I was elected President of the BCTF in 2007 and served for three… Read More

Jasmine Ashmore

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I live in Parksville, BC, and go to Ballenas Secondary School (I am currently in grade 12!). Last year our “pacific actions club” did raise the rates and it was very successful! We were in the local paper and this year we have tons more willing to join the food challenge! As a kid my mom raised me as a single mother living on welfare. Even though it was over six years ago I remember money and meals were always a constant struggle. I believe Raise the Rates is a great cause… Read More

Jean de Dieu Hakizimana

Photo of Jean de Dieu Hakizimana

Jean works as a professional interpreter and translator of the Swahili, Kinyarwanda, French and Kirundi languages into English, in civil, criminal and immigration legal proceedings. He is also the founder of Neighbourhood Care International, a non-profit agency in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside that provides social service and advocacy support primarily to immigrants and refugees from Africa. Earlier this year he started the pro bono African and Black Legal Clinic, which provides an accessible, safe place for people to come and discuss their legal issues. Why? I am doing this to be in solidarity… Read More

Jen Muranetz

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My name is Jen Muranetz and I am a mid-twenties journalist, an East Van resident, a hobby gardener, crafter, a sometimes-yogi and a socially conscious individual. I am taking part in the Welfare Food Challenge because I honestly have no clue what it’s like to live off of a $21 food budget for a week. This is one way for me to get a glimpse into the welfare system and solidify my values of equality. I’ve decided to document my journey on television to share my experience even further. I’ll be posting… Read More

Kate Hoffard

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I work in marketing in the tourism industry. I live in Vancouver. I’m taking on the Welfare Food Challenge because I’ve had family and friends experience the hard of poverty and want to bring awareness to this issue.

Kate Kysow

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I’m a 5th year Psychology student at UBC. I heard about this challenge through my TA, Chelsea, in an Intro to Social Welfare course. The reason I am doing this challenge is because I want people on Income Assistance to feel more included and looked after in our society. Learning about the barriers facing those on Income Assistance has really shocked me and I want to do my part in advocating for higher rates and a non-stigmatizing view of social welfare. I’m quite nervous to start this challenge, but am excited about… Read More

Kathy, Brent, Kris and Keith Buell

Photo of Kathy, Brent, Kris and Ketih Buell

My family and I are taking the challenge. I (Kathy) am the BC Nurses’ Union lobbyist for the North West and I am talking to the chair and BCNU communications as it would be good to get awareness about this issue in the North for sure. Our Terrace/Kitimat area has been exposed to an amazing increase in living costs over the last year which directly affects health outcomes for people as shelter is difficult to find at a reasonable rate.

Kiara Oleksiuk

Photo of Kiara Oleksiuk

I am a grade 12 student at Ballenas Secondary school in Parksville, on Vancouver Island. I will be taking the Annual Welfare Food Challenge this year! I’m very excited to start! Last year I had a few friends who tried it and I couldn’t believe they were able to make it through the week on so little for food! This year, I’m going to see if I have what it takes to finish! I was planning my grocery list today with a friend and we were shocked at how much things cost… Read More

Laure Desjardins-Arevalo

Photo of Laure Desjardins-Arevalo

Why I’m taking the challenge? I’ve always been concerned by social justice issues and I think it’s unacceptable to have people living in poverty in Canada. Taking the challenge will help me raise awareness among my friends and I want to see what I can do on a $21 budget. It’s different to talk about it than to live it. I take many things for granted while families struggle with day to day things that I don’t even notice. The challenge has already made me do some lifestyle changes such as cancelling… Read More

Natascha Trautmann

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For 8 years I have been saying that there is not enough money for people on welfare, cpp and disability to eat proper food, nutritious food. Many eat pasta etc and yet hey spend millions on ad for us to loose weight. It takes a proper diet to loose weight. Malnutrition also causes weight gain and many more sites, I will do all I can. As a child I was malnourished. I went to neighbors and asked if I could join them for lunch and they invited me in. I had… Read More

Lou Black

Photo of Lou Black

Live: Commercial Drive, Vancouver About myself: I’m optimistic, and a big fan of the work of Raise the Rates. I work as a Researcher and Policy Analyst with the Hospital Employees Union (HEU). I’m very physically active and as a result, am high maintenance in terms of caloric needs. Why I am doing the Welfare Food Challenge: I worked in shelters for a lot of years before taking my current job. I have watched hundreds of resourceful, well intended, and wonderful people struggle to sustain themselves on the pittance they receive from… Read More

Michelle Huang

Self-portrait Michelle Huang

I was born in Taiwan and came to Canada when I was in Grade 6. I speak Taiwanese, Mandarin and English. I’m in my early 30s. My first job was working as an Ice Skating Instructor for City of Burnaby at age of 17. I worked whenever I can find jobs. I have worked in BC, Alberta and Ontario, and also in Taiwan. Most of my work experiences were in the public sector, BC Parks, Parks Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Canada Customs, City of Waterloo, RCMP and Government of Taiwan. I was… Read More

Suzanne Johnson, Prep for the Challenge

Welfare Food Challenge – Why? The welfare rates in BC have not been raised since 2007. Low welfare rates are part of the picture of poverty in BC, which is the worst in Canada. I am particularly concerned about the impact that this has on the First Nations people. Food insecurity is a significant issue for many First Nations people with roughly a third of families who are earning wages facing some degree of food insecurity. The number of individuals on limited income assistance is also significant and these individuals face food… Read More

Samantha Truong

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I am 19 years old and am a student at UBC majoring in social work. I work as a Resident Advisor at Totem Park residences at UBC and I have created a program to encourage over 2,000 1st year students and staff living in Totem Park to join this welfare food challenge with me or, write a letter or sign the petition. I was born in south east Vancouver however since September I have moved on to campus at UBC as a requirement of my job. It has been a fascinating two… Read More

Sarah Khan

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I am a staff lawyer at the BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre. Part of my job is to represent people on welfare in cases challenging unfair welfare laws, policies and practices. I live in Vancouver. Welfare rates are far too low in BC for people to be able to live with any dignity. Every day I hear about the struggles that people on welfare face as a result of having virtually no money. I have joined this challenge as I admire the work of the Raise the Rates campaign in bringing attention… Read More

Shannon Quinn

Photo of Shannon Quinn

I work in the DTES and see first hand how difficult it is for so many individuals to access nutritious food. Many families and individuals struggle to meet their basic needs and I would like to help bring attention to the issue. Spending a mere $21.00 on groceries for a week was challenging in itself…getting through this week, will be incredibly difficult and I feel so much empathy for those who have choice but to live this way all the time.

Stacey Tyers

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Councillor, City of Terrace and Poverty Law Advocate, TDCSS I am taking the challenge because I was a teen mom on welfare. I spent a lot of time below the poverty line. It is so important to raise awareness and understanding of the difficulty for people living on so little. The expectation that they should simply be able to pull up their boot straps when you are faced daily with just needing to survive, is unrealistic. Shelter and food should be a basic human right.

Suzanne Johnson

Photo of Suzanne Johnson

I am a Registered Dietitian and member of the Penticton Band (Okanagan Nation). I live in the Penticton Indian Band community with my daughter and husband, who will not be participating in the challenge. Food insecurity is a significant issue for many First Nations people with roughly a third of families who are earning wages facing some degree of food insecurity. The number of individuals on limited income assistance is also significant and these individuals face food insecurity at almost double the rate of their wage-earning neighbours. I have been raised in… Read More

Sue Moen

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I’ve been involved in food security for 20 years – from the time we sat at tables as representatives of emergency food providers with health and civic authorities that made fun of us and didn’t know what we meant. I currently farm garden to feed my family as much as I can without going to stores, but even that requires cash inputs at some points in the year and we can’t grow all we need yet. I continue to work with the homeless population in Campbell River and know the challenges they… Read More

Gent Family, Prep for the Challenge

DISPATCHES FROM THE WELFARE FOOD CHALLENGE – Day negative 1, October 15, 2014 ROUGH CUT – observations from a privileged family of 5 living for a week on a food budget of $105 in Vancouver, BC When I got home from work today, I heard the story of how my eldest daughter, Lu, saw blueberries on the counter when she returned from school, and inadvertently had a bit of a feast, as she often does, without realizing that this fruit was to be part of our food allowance for the ‎entire week…. Read More

Tanja Cvekic

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I am an elementary school teacher and the current chair of the Vancouver Elementary School Teachers ‘ Association Anti-Poverty Committee. I immigrated to Vancouver with my family in 1995. My reasons for taking this challenge are to increase awareness about poverty issues in BC, to remind myself how fortunate I am in my life and to spark conversations with colleagues and the community around the state of social programs in BC.

Tess (Theresa) Healy

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I live in Prince George BC. I work for Northern Health in the Population Health program and I also teach at UNBC. I am taking the challenge because I used to live on welfare and remember the shame and challenges that accompanied it. Yet, it is a support system, designed to help us when we are in trouble and look where I got to because the system was there for me. Regarding fears and worries taking the challenge: I have to travel a lot and worry about how I will be able… Read More

Victor Elkins

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Lives: Kitsilano About Me: I am the President of the Hospital Employees Union (HEU). I am a long-time activist, and have spent more than two decades advocating for and defending public health care, workers’ rights, and human rights. I have been foster parenting many amazing children for the last 15 years. Why I’m doing the Challenge: I have witnessed the impacts that poverty has had on some of the kids I’ve fostered, and the disadvantages they begin their lives with as a result. They have come from homes where parents or grandparents… Read More

Victoria Lee

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I am a family medicine and public health and preventative medicine doctor. I currently serve as a Medical Health Officer for Fraser Health Authority in British Colombia; and co-chair BC Population Health Network and the Population Health Committee for Health Officers’ Council. Both groups focus on using population health approaches to improve health equity in BC. I am taking the challenge because poverty creates ill-health in our communities and makes people sick. When it comes to what matters to Canadians, healthcare often tops the list, but there are many factors outside the… Read More

Chantelle Sutton, Prep for the Challenge

First step for me is making a meal plan for the week of foods I think are cheap. Meals: Breakfast: oatmeal Lunch: peanut butter and banana sandwich Snack: apple, popcorn Dinner options: KD, tomato soup, eggs, veg burgers, broccoli Next step is pricing out my items. I went to Walmart this weekend to get an idea of what is the cheapest price I could get for my items. Shopping list: Bananas-6 weigh 2.5 lbs @ $.77/lb=$1.93 Apples- 1 bag is $4.47 Broccoli- $1.09/ lb, 2lbs =$2.18 Eggs- 12 for $2.67 Skimmed milk-… Read More

Alan Yu, Prep for the Challenge

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014 Alright, I am officially going to try this $21 food budget for the week challenge. This is going to be an interesting experience for me as initially I don’t think it will be too hard financially as I normally try to shop for the best deals. However, there is a lot that I don’t know such as keeping track of nutritional daily intake as it isn’t something that I normally think too much about other than doing things such as naturally avoiding as many artificial stuff as possible…. Read More

Zeina Elkarsh

Photo of Zeina Elkarsh

I have been participating in the Welfare Food Challenge beginning from yesterday. I am currently in grade 12 going to Ballenass Secondary School in Parksville BC. I’m participating in this challenge as it raises awareness of a serious problem that we have and not many people consider. I’m proud to be part of this 🙂 !

Stacey Tyers, Prep for the Challenge

I have decided to do the welfare food challenge for #raisetherates #bcmuni #bcpoli  via @wordpressdotcom

Jen Muranetz, Prep for the Challenge

I'm taking part in @RaisetheRates's #WelfareFoodChallenge. I already broke my $21 budget for the week… (1/2) Luckily I'm collaborating w/ another participant ($42 together/week). Challenge kicks off tmrw. I'm documenting it all 4 @goVanTVShow (2/2)

Tara-lee Gardner, Prep for the Challenge

2014 Welfare Food Challenge Starting this Thusrday I am taking the 2014 Welfare Food Challenge. This challenge only allows me $21 to spend on food for one week. It runs from Thursday October 16th to Wednesday October 22nd. I have been trying to figure out what I’m going to spend that money on and it’s been hard. Really really hard. I’m always on the look out for good deals when I’m at the store so I looked through my receipts trying to choose the necessities I’d need and nothing worked. All the… Read More

Daily Recap

Photo of 2014 Welfare Food Challenge Launch press conference

The 2014 Welfare Food Challenge has been launched! Bif Naked helps launch the 3rd annual Welfare Food Challenge with $21 worth of food October 16, 2014 Vancouver, Unceded Coast Salish Territory Download the 2014 Welfare Food Challenge News Release (PDF) Check out posts from our participants on our site and on their personal blogs! A bag of rice. Two cans of chick peas. Two heads of lettuce. A bag of spinach. A little box of tomatoes and some bananas and zucchinis. That’s all Bif Naked could buy with the $21 she has… Read More

Join the 2014 Welfare Food Challenge

poster for welfare food challenge

Ever wondered how good your survival skills are? Looking for a challenge or perhaps, a cheap weight-loss program? Why not take the Welfare Food Challenge! The 3rd Annual Welfare Food Challenge runs for 7 days from October 16 to October 22, 2014. During that week, participants will only eat the food they can buy with $21 dollars (no free food or donations!). 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. And we hope you’ll… Read More

Bif Naked joins 2014 Welfare Food Challenge!

On October 2, 2014 singer-songwriter Bif Naked officially launched Raise the Rates’ Welfare Food Challenge, announcing that she will take part in the 3rd edition of this campaign. “I feel it is part of my responsibility, as a citizen and a human, to address, and bring awareness to the fact that more people in BC are living below the poverty line than anywhere else in the country.” She encouraged other people across BC to join her taking the challenge, “The Welfare Food Challenge is important because the only way our community can… Read More