I am a UBC student of Social Work from Richmond, BC. Initially, I took on the challenge to test my resourcefulness, determination and stamina. I have completed the 30 Hour Famine in the past but that was easier because it was only a little over one day whereas this challenge lasts an entire week. Both challenges were tough because I am a foodie who loves to eat. To give you an idea, right when I wake up, I am happy because the new day has begun and I get to eat. On… Read More
For me this is a challenge, for thousands of others it’s a reality Deciding to take the Welfare Food Challenge for a week, I committed to eating only the food I could buy for just $21. It’s an annual event organized by Raise the Rates, a community advocacy group supported by the BC Government Employees’ Union (BCGEU). $21 a week –that’s just $3 a day! Less than the cost of the latte most of us have each morning. I prepared for the challenge by dutifully shopping at Dollarama and Buy-Low, taking home… Read More
It would be an honour to participate in this challenge 🙂 thank you for the opportunity. I am currently on the Ontario Disability Support Program ($1,100 total). My partner receives an Ontario Works cheque ($682). Our household income is $1,782. The rent we pay is $1,150 over half our combined income. After that we have to pay $45 for hydro, then we both each have to pay for our medication around $10 a day, for Rogers cable and Internet, $160 for my cell phone, $59 for my partner’s cell … and whatever… Read More
Final Day It’s our final day on the welfare food challenge! I have been waiting for this to be over since the moment we began. It has been a tough, tough week with lots of moments of reflection. Attempting to feed yourself on $21 a week consumes (literally) everything you do. I have been constantly making sure that what we have will get us through and always making sure Aiden has enough (which means I take less). $21 a week takes the joy out of food. It has become a utility with… Read More
Stephanie Smith, BCGEU President • For me this is a challenge, for thousands of others it’s a reality Deciding to take the Welfare Food Challenge for a week, I committed to eating only the food I could buy for just $21. It’s an annual event organized by Raise the Rates, a community advocacy group supported by the BC Government Employees’ Union (BCGEU). $21 a week –that’s just $3 a day! Less than the cost of the latte most of us have each morning. I prepared for the challenge by dutifully shopping at… Read More
Welfare Food Challenge – My Reflections It cannot be forgotten that each day, over 175,000 people in BC alone experience what each welfare food challenge participants went through this last week. As a participant, each day, I go to bed hungry and, each morning, I wake up hungry. My hunger is never satisfied, as each ration is simply not enough. The only way to stop the hunger is to go to sleep. I find myself obsessed with thinking about food. I constantly review how I might better ration my food so that… Read More
The Food Challenge is Over: Feeling Extremely Privileged The last few days of the Welfare Food Challenge were easier than I’d thought they would be. Although I was low in energy and went to bed early each night, in the back of my mind, I knew I was almost done and that on Tuesday, I would be able to eat and drink whatever and whenever I wanted. I finished the challenge last night. It felt wonderful to wake up to a latté and Greek yogurt for breakfast and to know that I… Read More
Download the End of the 2015 Welfare Food Challenge News Release (PDF). Media Advisory For Immediate Release November 8, 2015 Vancouver, Unceded Coast Salish Territory Photos available free here. “It’s important that we keep talking about [raising welfare rates] and get louder and louder.” That is what singer Bif Naked told a well-attended news conference in Vancouver on the last day of the 4th Annual Welfare Food Challenge. The Challenge is sponsored by Raise the Rates, a coalition that wants government to raise welfare rates to $1,500 from $610 a month for… Read More
Day 5 and feeling socially isolated I have started realizing how much food is part of my social life. My brother is in town and wanted to get together for a coffee. I don’t have any money left in my budget for food, so had to tell him I couldn’t make it. Tonight, I had arranged to meet with friends for a supper and a musical evening. I had already told them I’d have to join them after supper because of the food challenge. I’ve ended up cancelling the evening because, like… Read More
The day of celebration: Today seemed like a cruel joke. I went to a work related meeting only to find out that it was a meeting at all but a celebration of all the hard work we have done this year. The first part of the celebration was of course food I could not partake in which included cake, paninis, candy, and wraps. Directly after the celebration I was working at an event at my branch where of course we were serving food … really delicious looking and smelling food! This challenge… Read More
Yesterday it really hit home … going to bed hungry and the awful feeling knowing what so many people live through day in and day out. Change is needed!
Day 4 proved to be just as bad as day three. Continued headache (thank goodness I can afford Advil). Poor concentration and low energy continues, along with irritability and frustration. Breakfast: oatmeal, lunch: half a banana and half an apple, dinner: pasta with tomato sauce. I could only eat about half my bowl of pasta as I became full early – my body is getting used to having not enough food which is not a healthy spot to be in.
Day 4 and feeling it! I was feeling pretty good about my ability to get through the welfare food challenge until about three in the afternoon yesterday. Up until then, I had thought that the main challenges I would have to overcome were pretty minor. My main inconvenience was having to eat the same food day after day. Oatmeal and peanut butter for breakfast, salad for lunch, and lentils with potatoes for supper get pretty boring after you’ve eaten them three days in a row. Yesterday, when I came home to see… Read More
Tabassum is a foodie and cites food as one of her biggest joys in life. When not eating, she is a physician and researcher working in the area of maternal health. She is an advocate for social justice and believes that poverty and inequality is the root of ill health locally and globally. Reflections As a Muslim who is very experienced with fasting, this challenge has been harder than any fast I have done [including this year’s 19 hour fast]. At the end of the fast, I know that I can eat… Read More
I live in Kimberley, BC. Here, I have a day job, but spend much of my remaining time volunteering as a food bank hamper filler and fruit gleaner. A glutton for interesting personal challenges (read: punishment), I followed the $26-dollar-per-week diet for 6 weeks in the Spring of 2014. Of course I blogged about it: http://www.26eaten.blogspot.ca. I’ll be dusting the keys off for the Welfare Food Challenge 2015!
I was born and raised in Vancouver I have had the opportunity to experience the growth, successes and challenges society faces in Metro Vancouver. I live in Metro Vancouver with my wife and two young kids, where we are all involved in supporting our local community and I constantly reflect on the challenges my kids will face as they get older. I want to ensure they are aware and educated now that allows them to be a part of solutions to improve poverty not just in our local community but inspire change… Read More
I’m mighty fond of food. I love cycling, cross country skiing, and being outside. I work at the Hospital Employees Union (HEU) as a Researcher and Policy Analyst. Before working at HEU, I was a support worker in shelters for 13 years. Shelters, food banks, and other measures that are supposed to be temporary solutions don’t address the roots of poverty. A lot of money is spent on those industries. I am convinced that the money would go so much further if it were put directly in the hands of the people… Read More
I am a 4th year Dietetics student studying at UBC and I currently live in East Vancouver. I decided to take on this challenge because I feel it is important for me as an upcoming Registered Dietitian to better recognize the food security challenges in this city. This challenge will help me better understand how I can best nutritionally support those with limited resources. Only by immersing oneself into the problems can we find more useful solutions. I hope to share what I will learn in this experience with my friends and… Read More
I have lived in the Downtown Eastside my entire life. I work at the Saint James Music Academy, a non-profit, free, classical music education program for inner-city kids. I was asked to join the welfare food challenge by my mother. I at first said no, thinking it would get in the way of functioning at work. On the morning of day 1, I had a change of “heart” and decided to join in. Many of my friends and neighbours have been on, or are on, welfare. I wanted to, before passing judgements… Read More
I live in east Vancouver and I am the branch manager of Vancity’s Collingwood Branch. I want to participate in the challenge to get a better understanding of one of the many different challenges for those living on welfare face and help the cause by raising more awareness to the issue and advocate for change. Aside from little money for food, there are other obstacles for people facing poverty such as low wages, homelessness or lack of affordable housing, lack of affordable child care and other barriers and if you don’t experience… Read More
Day 3 was a tough one. Seriously losing my ability to concentrate, very low energy and a horrendous migraine that ran all day. What I also didn’t anticipate was my lack of appetite. I was hungry but had no desire to eat the food available to me. This meant a day with not enough calories and very few nutrients. Breakfast: oatmeal, lunch: can of soup and half a banana, dinner: half an apple and a carrot.
I was very hungry upon waking, so I made pancakes from an eggless pancake recipe and had a glass of milk, for lunch I will be eating soup, and for dinner I am making chilli, with half a banana as a snack, that is an estimated caloric intake of 1,220, and an estimated loss of 515 calories due to work, leaving a grand total of 705 calories, which is very low. Monika’s Mom Ate pancakes with a glass of milk, will be having soup for lunch, and will be having chilli for… Read More
My strategy for this is working way better than last year’s. I found ways to make the food taste ok but I’m not sure I have enough to take me through 4 more days. I am about 100 times more mindful of not wasting anything, and am finishing everything on my plate. I started to plan a party for Sun that would have been pretty food focused and realized I couldn’t … Food probably factors into 50% or more of my socializing. So that can’t mean good things if you consistently have… Read More
This really creates awareness of the challenges people face every single day. For breakfast a cup of coffee/one piece of toast and lunch piece of bread and hard-boiled egg. Missing my fruits and vegetables but knowing there is little I can do right now to change this today…very eye opening!
November 5, 2015 • Breakfast: A piece of toast and a banana Lunch: Noodles stir-fry, an apple, guacamole, nachos and a boiled egg Dinner: Noodles stir-fry I no longer eat for enjoyment; I eat for sustenance. One of my classes instructed us to form groups to make guacamole and nachos and it was honestly the best meal that I have had in days because I have been eating apples and bland noodles every day. I also really miss eating flavourful food with lots of sauce. The guacamole and nachos didn’t keep me… Read More
I purchased this food for the Welfare Food Challenge for $18.60. It’s day 3 of the challenge and I’ve eaten about half of the food. The food I purchased is pretty healthy, but I am going to be really tired of it after this week. Also I can’t afford to buy any green vegetables. I have $2.60 left but I am allocating that money for tea bags and milk as I have been using the tea bags and milk at work as I need a bit of caffeine to get through the… Read More
This is not pasta L Yesterday was hard. I was in a first aid course. I arrived early and was waiting for a friend at the skytrain station. It was cold and my first thought was to go inside a nearby coffee shop and grab a coffee, but of course I didn’t have money for this so I waited outside in the cold. When I got home for dinner I was starving! We decided to make “spaghetti” unfortunately the spaghetti sauce I bought (it came in a bag) was more like ketchup… Read More
I ate leftover biscuits from yesterday&rquo;s breakfast and just drank water due to a queasy feeling in my stomach, that feeling by lunchtime was in my throat so I could not eat lunch because it hurt to swallow, and I could not eat dinner for the same reason, I did manage to eat half a banana as a snack. My total caloric intake was 404, and I lost 520 calories due to work, for a grand total of -116 calories, which is very, very bad, and I did go to bed hungry…. Read More
So 2 days into the challenge and while I’ve been able to stay fed, have been having a lot of feelings in this experience. Concern that my food will not last is a big one. I’ve also felt pity from friends and family who are partaking in social meals and treats that I cannot take part in. That is not a good feeling at all and very isolating. Today I woke up with a cold and so like many people, I went and got some medicine. However, the vast majority of folks… Read More
Welfare Food Challenge – Charity or Justice? Yesterday was our first day of the challenge but not our first day of work in preparing food. We bought dried black beans as part of our staples to help provide a bit of protein. We soaked the beans and put them in a slow cooker overnight together with a few slivers of onion, garlic, dried chilies and a portion of our canned tomatoes. We went to sleep confident that we were totally on top of the food situation. I woke up early to review… Read More
I live in East Vancouver I work in Strathcona and the DTES and am part of a non-profit. I’m learning about the realities of the city and how beauty and transformation are happening. I’m taking the challenge with my friends to raise awareness in my circles of influence, to re-kindle solidarity and empathy, and as a plead to the government to raise the freaking rates!! (seriously. Its been too long.) I blog at http://www.beyondthegreatwalls.com/blog
Year 4, UBC Food, Nutrition & Health Like many students in my program, I love food and so you may find me snacking behind my bag or thinking about my next meal after I finish one. What I’m most passionate about is learning how food and nutrition affects our body from birth to old age and exploring the multifaceted nature of nutrition. Beyond vitamins and minerals, I also enjoy promoting and taking part in health and wellness initiatives within diverse communities. When I’m not studying and working in the community, I may… Read More
Jenny immigrated to Canada with her family in 1976. For the first two years, her mother worked as a farm worker to support the family. She earned $10/day to support a family of eight while her father went to Vancouver Community College to learn English as a Second Language. Jenny’s life experiences led her to become a community legal advocate in Vancouver’s downtown eastside. She is a tireless fighter for the people of East Van and a fierce advocate for equality and justice. In 1993, she became the youngest Vancouver councillor and… Read More
I will be participating in the Raise the Rates 4th Annual Welfare Food Challenge alongside my partner, Colby Innes. We reside in New Westminster, British Columbia. I am an account manager at Vancity’s South Burnaby Community Branch and Colby works as a mechanic in Surrey. Through my role at Vancity, I have the opportunity to work with many low-income members. I have experienced few moments as poignant as completing a budgeting plan and realizing that the individual in front of me does not have enough money for food, never mind retirement savings… Read More
As Canada inaugurates her new Prime Minister, I work methodically through Day Two of the challenge. Yesterday and today I had Hot Chocolate (with a Tablespoon of cream) and hot cooked rolled oats (with a Teaspoon of butter melted in). For lunch I had a tortilla wrapped sandwich of chicken, onion, bell pepper, a skinny sliver of avocado and finely minced cabbage. For supper yesterday and today, I had rice and beans. The Canada Food Guide (http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/basics-base/quantit-eng.php) recommends 7 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, 6 servings of grains, 3 servings of… Read More
Yogurt and my ‘flour, oats, margarine’ version of granola for breakfast. Yikes, the tub of yogurt is almost done! Stir fry and rice for lunch and dinner. It looks appetizing but lacked some flavour and isn’t especially filling … It is really different to think about rationing. I had a meeting tonight where Indian food was being served. That was tough to sit through. It helped me think about the absurdity of having an abundance of food and decadent restaurants in our province yet people go hungry here every day.
November 4, 2015 • Breakfast: A piece of toast, an egg and a banana. Lunch: Noodle stir-fry, 2 apples and an egg. Dinner: Instant noodles and an apple. Today was tough; I was very lethargic the whole day and I am not sure if it’s due to lack of sleep or lack of food or both. All I know is that food was on my mind. I had a full work day and during one of my meetings, it was challenging to be attentive and contribute to the group because of the… Read More
This week, my community and I are participating in the welfare food challenge. I, along with others in the province of BC, will be eating only what can be bought with $21, the money left over for food on a welfare budget. No food banks, no free food, no access to pantry or garden. Today, I ate an orange for breakfast, 2 eggs + 2 pieces of toast for lunch, and lentil soup for dinner. Not a bad first day, and after a long day, I am feeling fed. Here is the… Read More
Watch the video for some of my reflections. DAY 1 of Welfare Food Challenge! IN SHORT: I only have ~$3 left for this week, was sad to miss out on a community meal with my neighbours because we are not allowed to receive free food or use any form of food charity, and realize how time and energy consuming it is to ensure your food dollars stretch to the last penny. WHAT I ATE Breakfast: boiled egg + black coffee Lunch: tomato pasta with chickpeas and spinach Dinner: red lentil soup with… Read More
Today was the first day of the Welfare Food Challenge and I’m feeling a whole bunch of things at once. I am saddened by the fact that so many people in BC don’t have enough to eat. I am angry that we live in a place with so much excess, while so many have so little. I feel guilty that I complained about hunger pains after less than 24 hours of this challenge. I am grateful for the support that I am already receiving on social media. My head is pounding, my… Read More
After #WelfareFoodChallenge Boiled all the eggs, packed in suitcase. Lunch: 1toast &apple. Headed to airport @bifnaked @melaniejmark Couldn’t wait to eat my boiled egg for dinner so had it for a snack. Was too hungry. Dinner: peanut butter sandwich & 1 kiwi. Still hungry, drank lots of water. Going to bed early so I don’t have to think being hungry.
I made biscuits with white gravy with a glass of milk for breakfast, had a can of soup for lunch and just drank water, and made spaghetti with garlic and herb sauce for supper and just drank water, and half a banana for a snack. My total caloric intake was 1,725, and I lost 517 calories due to work, for a grand total of 1,208 calories, which is low, but I felt fine, I was not hungry. Monika’s Mom Ate biscuits with white gravy and a glass of milk. Had a can… Read More
Lunch day one: veggies seasoned with ramen noodle spices. After eating I realize that I’m full but not at all satisfied. Enjoying food is a luxury on $21/day
November 3, 2015 – Day 1 of the Welfare Food Challenge When is being sick (as in sore throat, congestion, fatigue and a lack of interest in anything but sleep) a good thing? When you have to cut back on eating. I woke up yesterday (Monday, November 2) feeling kind of yucky – sore throat and a bit feverish – but had stuff to do so shrugged it off. By 6:00 pm on Monday I was shivering, my throat was throbbing and I went to bed at 8:00 pm and slept through… Read More
Last night’s #WelfareFoodChallenge dinner: my ration of eggplant + zucchini @RaisetheRates @JennyKwanBC
November 3, 2015 • Breakfast: A banana, one piece of toast and a cup of tea. Lunch: Small portions of noodle stir fry with no sauce, a banana, a cookie, half an egg sandwich Dinner: Three apples, an egg and noodle stir-fry The night before the challenge, I bought most of my groceries and I had $4 left. I decided to make a large stir-fry of noodles, lettuce, and meat that I am hoping to last me for three or four days. I planned on dividing it into 6-7 portions and pair… Read More
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… Read More
My weekend was not spent participating in Halloween festivities but rather spent shopping around the city for the best deals. I was surprised how upsetting it was and the recurring thought I keep having is, thank god I don’t have to feed children on this budget. I opted for more food, less health … and still wondering if that was the best choice. After the seven days are over I may never eat ramen noodles again. As I started the challenge this morning the first notable change was my coffee. I love… Read More
Last night, Colby and I went grocery shopping for the Welfare Food Challenge. We had $42 to spend between the two of us. The experience was much more stressful than I had anticipated. I consider myself quite savvy when it comes to budgeting, but as I scoured the shelves for the lowest prices, I realized that I’ve never had a hard line when I comes to my food allowance. I was no longer looking at the nutritional value of food, only the dollar value. Although we carefully selected items averaging around two… Read More
I had a list of items | wanted to purchase and felt confident I could buy them within the $21. I want this challenge to be pure. By that I mean, if a person on a fixed income can’t travel large distances to obtain their groceries, neither can I. Someone suggested a place in Vancouver – not a food bank, but where donated food is sold in small quantities for low prices. I no longer live in Vancouver so it wouldn’t be practical for me to make the trek to Vancouver to… Read More
Based on Health Canada’s Food Basket, with advice from Deititians of Canada and what is available Item Amount $ 2% Milk 2 litres 5.58 Yogurt 650 gms 3.79 Cheese 250 gms 7.49 Eggs, Large 6 eggs 1.80 Ground beef 350 gms 4.20 Chicken legs 430 gms 3.31 Can tuna 184 gms 2.29 Peanut butter 500 gms 4.39 Baked beans 398 ml 1.09 Margarine 454 gms 3.79 Vegetable oil (sunflower) 500 ml 2.99 Frozen Vegetables 800 gms 3.89 Carrots 320 Gms 0.55 Broccoli 190 gms 0.84 Onion 480 gms 0.63 Green beans 190… Read More
I work at Vancity. As a Vancouver native, I know of many people who have at one time or another, struggled to make ends meet. The Welfare Food Challenge is an opportunity to raise awareness that access to nutritious and affordable good should be accessible to everyone. Every person has a right to live a life of dignity and self-respect. The current welfare rates make it next to impossible to empower users of the program to rise above their current hardships. At the very least, the welfare amounts should provide a reasonable… Read More
I am a community activist and mother to two homeschooled children aged 6 and 11. I am doing the Challenge to see for myself in a very concrete way, how little $21 will buy. It is also to show my children and to use it as a springboard for further discussion about social welfare, social justice, budgeting, and the (in)ability to make many of the healthy food choices we may want to, given limited funds and the long term health and quality of life issues that follow. So many related issues and… Read More
I recently moved to the Downtown Eastside/Strathcona area of Vancouver, where I am involved with a small community church and spend most of my time learning about urban poverty, social justice, and community organizing. I am taking the Challenge out of solidarity with my neighbours, many of whom are low-income and live on welfare rates. I am increasingly awed at my new friends’ resourcefulness and resilience in this food system that does not work. My hope is to better understand the limits that are daily imposed on them as they attempt to… Read More
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 for the 2nd Year in a row: 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… Read More
I am in grade 12 at RE Mountain Secondary in Langley. I have decided join my mom and do the Welfare Food Challenge in order to bring awareness to what a person on welfare would have to eat each week. By making just one post on Facebook about this challenge and posting a picture of the food that we bought it generated questions from some of my friends at school. I have no idea how I’m going to feel but I am willing to try. I want to try and see what… Read More
I am an Assistant Branch Manager at Vancity Savings Credit Union in Victoria, BC I was born and raised in a small town in Northern BC where my family experienced many of our small town’s industry booms and busts. Unfortunately the busts left our family with not much to rely on. The economy wasn’t always stable. It left us in some pretty tough times. Spending my $21 for this week brought back a lot of memories: Lots of meal planning, strategic spending – putting items back after we got to the grocery… Read More
A little about us…we are getting married next year and haven’t really cooked much together. We rarely do any grocery shopping either. We saw this challenge as a way to gain insight on how it may be for people on welfare. We know it is extremely difficult and hope to learn about some of the hardships others face.
I live in East Vancouver and study dietetics at UBC.This is my first year participating in the Welfare Food Challenge. I hope to raise awareness about food insecurity in British Columbia and encourage support for the Raise the Rates initiative. Having access to safe, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food is a critical component to one’s overall health. Without adequate nutrition, there is an increased risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Additionally, food insecurity negatively impacts childhood development as well as birth outcomes and maternal health. Increasing welfare rates… Read More
I live in Vancouver and I am a social work student at UBC. I am participating in the challenge because I want to gain a deeper understanding of the struggles and hardships that come along with having low income in Vancouver. One concern would be not having a lot of energy to focus on school due to the limited amount of food. https://wongconfessions.wordpress.com/
I’m from Northern BC. I’m a mom and a business owner/operator. I love the outdoors, hiking, quadding, sledding, camping, gardening and all that jazz. I decided to join in Raise the Rates’ Welfare Food Challenge to show others just how difficult it can be to make ends meet when your a single parent/person on assistance. Hopefully, I can make at least one person open their eyes and see what others go thru on a weekly basis. I’ve started a blog (bear with me I’m New at this) over at lunamortis.weebly.com
I live near Commercial in East Vancouver. I am a retired teacher and have recently moved to Vancouver with my wife Barbara Ryeburn who works at the BC Teachers’ Federating, Social Justice sector. I am taking the challenge to support my wife who is also doing it and I don’t want to be a negative influence during the week. Also I notice that there were no male photos on your photo page (as of yesterday morning) and I believe men should also be present. I have no worries about doing the challenge… Read More
I am employed by Vancity as the Director of Mobile Sales. I was born and raised in Vancouver. We are very privileged to live in such a beautiful part of this world and we take so much for granted. While this is a short-term Challenge, it will allow me to share my experience and help raise awareness of this critical issue. Many men, women and children live in poverty today and it is not humanely right. I’m already feeling the pain after doing my shopping with $21.00! Change is needed.
I live in Vancouver and work at Vancity. I am taking on this challenge is to increase social awareness about the issue of living in poverty and to create conversation around welfare and that it can happen to anybody. Even from the introductory briefing of this challenge, I have learned much already and feel deep appreciation for this initiative. No one chooses to live this way. With a busy family and work life, this is an opportunity to break up the routine and the bubble some of us live in. This experience… Read More
I grew up and still currently live in East Vancouver. I am a 3rd year Dietetics student studying at the University of British Columbia. I am participating in the Welfare Food Challenge this year after learning about the challenges that welfare users face with only a mere $610 per month to meet their basic needs and the lack of poverty reduction strategies and food security initiatives in B.C. Many of us are very lucky to be able to choose what we eat each day and be nourished by healthy, whole foods. However,… Read More
Both Deanna and Earyn have first-hand experiences with poverty. LGBTQ youth are more likely to experience poverty and precarious housing, and this was certainly true of their experiences as youth. Earyn and Deanna are both active in social justice organizations. Deanna is the Campaign Organizer for the Living Wage for Families Campaign (www.livingwageforfamilies.ca) and Earyn is a Mobilization Campaigner with Greenpeace Canada (www.greenpeace.org). Issues of climate change, food security and poverty are deeply connected although we don’t always think of those connections when talking about government policies or the price of groceries… Read More
We live in North Vancouver. I wanted to do the Challenge because I work with people everyday who are struggling on a tight budget to eat healthy food. I work as a registered dietitian in Vancouver, BC and most of my clients are living below the poverty line. I wanted to experience in one week, part of what they experience for weeks, months or years. Adam is doing this partly because he finds the concept interesting and partly because I told him he was doing it, ha! We went shopping today. We… Read More
Download the 2015 Welfare Food Challenge Launch News Release (PDF). Media Advisory For Immediate Release November 3, 2015 Vancouver, Unceded Coast Salish Territory More photos available free here. “We have to stand up for our neighbours.” That is what Singer Bif Naked told a news conference at the launch of the 4th annual Welfare Food Challenge today in front of the No Frills grocery store on East Hastings in Vancouver. Bif is one of over 100 people from all across BC who are spending the week from November 3 through to November… Read More
I was ecstatic about my haul of food for a week! I had to be. Part of my responsibility as a participant in the 2015 #welfarefoodchallenge was to eat only what I could purchase for $21.00, the amount that is estimated for most people on welfare have to eat with, weekly. As a #vegan I need to try and stay true to how I want to eat. I have tried to be pragmatic in my choices, and I will divide these equally for seven days, as I did last year: seven bananas,… Read More
Shopping for the challenge I went to Superstore and was able to buy all of this for just under $16. I usually do not eat this much packaged food but I do not have a choice and for me, I usually lean protein and lots of green vegetables so I will need to eat tofu with soy sauce (miso soup style) and the processed meat I bought – wieners and bologna and ration my 1 head of lettuce. I thought I could buy some instant coffee but it was $6 a jar… Read More
Food for the week for Deanna and I. We tried to get foods that would go together in a variety of ways, and took advantage of sales on some of the cheapest produce. Our total came to $37.48 leaving $4.52 for a mid-week small produce shop.
Today is the first day of the Welfare Food Challenge. For the next week, I will only be eating what I could manage to buy with 21 dollars. I won’t be accepting any freebies, donations, or poaching from my garden or deep-freeze. 21 dollars does not seem like a lot for food. That’s because it isn’t. Having said that, I was surprised with what I was able to purchase for 21 dollars. I went to two different stores, both within walking distance of my house. I had checked flyers online over the… Read More
I had to look in the “clearance” section to buy most of my groceries for this week’s challenge. It was not easy to spend only $21 for my week long groceries
$21 worth of food.
Food for the week for Maya (12) Makayla (5) and I. We are taking the challenge to take stock of our privilege…Exercise in empathy /compassion for those who face this reality 365 days a year. Quick fact: 30000 children live in poverty in BC. We can and must do better so that people can thrive and not just survive.
Today Monday 2nd, I bought all my food, I spent $20.60. I found vegetables and fruit in a very cheap grocery on Hastings. However, some of my fruit is not in very good conditions. I tried to do a healthy buy, however it was very difficult. I spent more than 1 hour deciding between different foods. I use to look all the diet information in the back side on the food, but having just 21 dollars you can not decide the best food for you, you don’t have freedom of choice.
The day before: No food for the soul So, we’re feeling a little nervous with our food purchases for the week – will the food last us, fill us, and nourish us? Have we made some key errors in our planning that will become blindly apparent near the end of the 7 days? For our family of 4, we have a budget of $84 for the week. Usually, we’ll spend around $300 for a healthy, varied and often organic diet for our active family (and for Darren who is a 6ft 3… Read More
Balancing hungry & healthy was hard enough. For $21/week I couldn’t even think about local. #welfarefoodchallenge Officially ready for the #welfarefoodchallenge! Best I could do with $21.. it’ll be a hard week. @RaisetheRates
Planning for the challenge, October 31, 2015 Tuesday is the start of the Welfare Food Challenge. My husband, Kim, and I have made the commitment to eat only the food that we are able to purchase with $21 each for the week. This is the amount that Raise the Rates has determined is available for food to people living on social assistance once they have covered all their other basic costs. I’m hopeful that by participating in this campaign, I’ll develop a deeper understanding of one of the many challenges people living… Read More
Bought $21 dollars worth of food. The plan is as follows: 150gr of yogurt with sprinkling of sunflower seeds for breakfast each day. 50gr of salad plus two eggs for lunch A banana as a snack for 5 days Vegetables plus couscous for a second snack… And for dinner … beans and tuna … plus couscous. This will have to be measured down to the last bit … no room for error … no room for side snacks like nuts, fresh fruit. Shopping was hard … 18 hour days with stress levels… Read More
Post #1 – The Night before the Challenge (November 2, 2015) Initially, when I first registered for the challenge, I wasn’t nervous about the challenge at all but I was excited to have this learning experience. How naïve was I! However, as the weeks went by, I became very aware of how little $21 was and how easily it could be spent in a day. Even as I was shopping for groceries for the week, I felt stressed and disappointed because I realized how limited I was in my choices. I didn’t… Read More
My food for the week. I really thought I could do better. My strategy was to eat the same think for breakfast every day and rotate two entrees throughout the week for lunch and dinner. Items I left in the cart and could not afford: cherry tomatoes and crackers….the foods I was planning on having as snacks. My bill came in at $20.86
Currently I am a student working part time as a cook. I have been a cook for the past 10 years of my life. However, I have recently decided to enter into the world of healthcare. Not only do I wish to help the privileged but to help those who truly are unprivileged. For the most part I live a pretty simple lifestyle. Being a foodie, I am often spending more then I should on food. Food, clothing and shelter are the basic necessities of survival. Most of the time we take… Read More
Stephanie was elected as the first woman President of the British Columbia Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU) in May, 2014. She had previously served as the Union’s Treasurer. She has been a longtime activist with the Union and worked as an early childhood educator in Vancouver. She is a single mother of two and lives in Richmond. The BCGEU represents 65,000 workers in BC in the public service, including the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation and in the broader public and private sectors. Smith says, “Many of our members… Read More
Ryan founded Vancouver indie pop/rock group Mother Mother in 2005. Helming production and songwriting duties on most of Mother Mother’s releases, in addition to his role as frontman, Guldemond’s efforts yielded the group eight Top 10 alternative pop singles to date, as well as Guldemond’s first Juno nod as producer for the group’s fourth LP The Sticks. Now with Universal Music, Ryan and Mother Mother’s success continues with LP5, Very Good Bad Thing, nominated for Group of the Year at the 2015 JUNO Awards. Guldemond has further honed his craft on projects… Read More
I was born and raised on the North Shore and have been fortunate enough to continue living here into my adult life. I live with my husband and my three cats. Professionally, I work as a Registered Dietitian in a Diabetes Centre in the public healthcare system. Outside of my professional job I volunteer worth with a local cat rescue organization, Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association (VOKRA). Helping my clients successfully navigate the health care system and animal rescue are my two passions in life. I am taking this challenge primarily because… Read More
Day T -1 and counting… Well tomorrow is the first day of my experience living on the same benefits of someone living on welfare. The weekend was challenging finding $21 worth of food with any sense of nutritional value. You can’t buy nutrition in this kind of budget. Worried about how I will feel this week with all of the crazy unknown garbage I will ingest in the coming 7 days. I had a thought as I went through the shopping process. I realized when all you have is $21 to spend,… Read More
My name is Sarah, and along with my husband Darren, son James (9) and daughter Emma (7), we’re a little nervous for what this Challenge week will have in store for us! I work at Vancity as a Marketing Manager, and Darren is a business consultant in the local, organic food industry, so social impact and food are at the core of our life choices. Living in East Vancouver also means we bump into the effects of poverty on a daily basis, and we try our best to educate our kids around… Read More
I live in East Vancouver. I am in my 4th year of the Dietetics Program at UBC. I am taking the Welfare Food Challenge in order to raise awareness about the cost of food in Vancouver, especially for those who are Welfare recipients. As a nutrition student, I am attuned to the health issues that people face when they do not have enough healthy, nutrient dense food to eat. Surviving on $21 per week can be very difficult for people to meet daily requirements for calories, macronutrients and micronutrients, which can lead… Read More
I am doing the Welfare Food Challenge because the word needs to get out that we have a whole sector of our society that is struggling, often going unnoticed and this is a chance to shine the spotlight on the welfare recipients and walk in their shoes for a week. This is my 2nd time doing the challenge. I have spent $17.25 and have $3.75 in reserve for a midweek purchase. I took a photo of the food I purchased last night.
I recently moved, with my boyfriend Vaughan, from Burnaby to East Vancouver and are adjusting to our new community. I work as an Account Manager at Vancity Credit Union in south Burnaby. I’m taking the challenge to start a conversation with my friends and family about how the money received while on welfare maybe enough to live but it is not enough to live a healthy lifestyle. Luckily my boyfriend has been extremely supportive and has agreed to do the challenge with me. He works away from home with shift that are… Read More
Well it has been a very interesting day. My daughter Tiffene has decided to join the challenge with me. We had a whole $42.00 to spend for our food this week. Seriously I cannot believe how little this amount buys. I have attached a picture of “Team Toth” (Tiffene and I) as well as a picture of the food we bought for the week. We paid $36.79, leaving just over $5.00 for bread and/or fruit for later in the week. The Food Challenge begins on Tuesday November 3, 2015, I will do… Read More
I am taking the 2015 Welfare Food Challenge in British Columbia. I will live off of $21 food budget for 1 week. I am a 37 year old Vancouver resident on disability. On disability you get $900 a month and welfare $610. I am very lucky that a few years ago I was given a spot in B.C. housing because I needed to transition out of a group home. My normal food budget is $60 a week. Before B.C housing, and before the group home I was living in a basement suite… Read More
As some of you already know, I’ve signed up to do this years Raise the Rates challenge here in BC. But you may be asking what exactly it is… Over 175,000 people in BC rely on welfare, of which over 30,000 are children. Nearly 4% of the population of BC live on welfare, and it has been near this level since 2009, in the fallout from the 2008 recession. The majority of people, 65%, on welfare are people with disabilities. Welfare payments have been frozen since April 2007, over 8 years. They… Read More
I live in Surrey, BC, I am a secondary school teacher, a social justice advocate/educator, a master’s student and a human being. Why I am taking the Challenge: I wish I didn’t have to. The reality that we have thousands of people in our province that are dealing with poverty, and no one listens. Shame on all of us. This isn’t just about how much welfare rates are and how much food costs; this is about our rights as human beings being denied by our government but also the lack of understanding… Read More
I recently moved to Vancouver. I live and work in the Downtown Eastside/ Strathcona, where I am involved in community organizing and at a local church. I’m very passionate about food justice, and food in general, and I am heartbroken at how current government policies don’t allow people to have a healthy diet, and not allowing welfare recipients to thrive in other arenas of life either. I’m doing the Welfare Food challenge to get a personal snapshot what it’s really like to live on welfare in my neighbourhood in order to inform… Read More
I am a staff lawyer at the BC Public Interest Advocacy Centre in Vancouver. Part of my job is to represent people on welfare in cases challenging unfair welfare laws, policies and practices. 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 to the… Read More
I am doing the Challenge to spread awareness. I was on foodstamps in 2015 when I was in a car accident that left my fiancé doa & me in an intensive care unit. I had injuries leaving me unable to work my 2 jobs. I found myself quickly broke and homeless, living on very little assistance. People need to realize that if you are on welfare you are not automatically a mooch. People have medical problems or other reasons they can’t control.
I was born and raised in Vancouver. I have nearly 20 years experience working directly with and on behalf of children, families and vulnerable persons impacted by the child serving and criminal justice systems. I worked as a Child and Youth Advocate with the BC Representative for Children and Youth since its inception in April 2007. In 2013 I became the Associate Deputy Representative, responsible for Advocacy, Aboriginal Relations, Community Outreach and Youth Engagement throughout the province. I am a passionate and experienced human rights advocate, with a Bachelor of Arts degree… Read More
I was born in Valparaíso, Chile, and studied chemical engineer. I got my PhD in Italy and I am currently undertaking postdoctoral studies in water treatment at UBC. I accepted the Welfare Food Challenge because I strongly believe that people who are living in poverty should have enough financial support from the government so as to be able to have a decent humane life. This includes being able to pay for a place to live and other necessary expenses, but most importantly to have enough money to eat. The amount of money… Read More
I live in North Burnaby and work for Vancity Credit Union as the branch manager at the Victoria Drive Community Branch. This Challenge was brought forward by a colleague and as I started looking further into the Challenge, this was one I did not want to pass up. This challenge will allow me to gain firsthand experience to a struggle a lot of people face and raise the awareness to friends, family and strangers.
I live and work in Surrey, BC. I am a full time employed worker who deals with the public. Social justice and human rights are dear to my heart and that is the reason why I am a strong activist. I am taking the Challenge because I want to respect the challenges of those who are less fortunate to make choices of what they can afford to eat and live on. I am fortunate and thankful that I can make these choices. My worries about the challenge is whether or not I… Read More
I have been a Student Services teacher in an elementary school in Cranbrook for over 20 years. This September, I moved to Vancouver to begin work as Social Justice Coordinator with the BC Teachers’ Federation. I have also been involved in a number of volunteer activities. I am a director of a refugee sponsorship group, East Kootenay Friends of Burma and have volunteered as a counsellor with Options for Sexual Health. I have been involved with my local and provincial teachers’ unions in a number of activities and committees supporting social justice… Read More
My Name is Bif Naked, and for the second year in a row, 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… Read More
I work in the Community Investment division at Vancity as a Portfolio Manager and I’m also a part-time instructor at BCIT. I teach a course on Co-operatives and Community Economic Development. In my role at Vancity I have relationships with many different community organizations and I have been fortunate to get to know some incredible groups who are making a difference in the lives of the people they serve. My work has also helped me to understand the disparities that many face and the obstacles and barriers that make positive change difficult…. Read More
I live in Victoria, BC. I returned to Canada in July 2014 after spending two years in Sweden doing a Master’s in International Health (which is Public Health with a focus on low and middle income countries). I really noticed a further ‘fraying’ of the social safety net from when I had left in 2012 as well as a dramatic increase in the price of groceries. I live alone and am still unemployed after more than a year of job seeking despite plenty of experience in the workplace and good academic credentials…. Read More
I run the local food bank in Fort St John. Every day I see people come to us for help when they just can’t stretch what they have to make it through the month. SRO’s here go for $650 a month, so what do people do after that? We’re seeing people who, when they are able to save some money, are struggling with the high prices we see in our grocery stores. I’m taking the challenge for a couple of reasons. 1) Its a good way to draw attention to an urgent… Read More
Community Investment Specialist, Vancity I am taking the Welfare Food Challenge because when I was growing up we didn’t have a lot of money, my mom was a single parent who always did the best she could but typically worked minimum wage jobs to get by while raising three kids. She worked all hours and I pitched in a lot to help get my siblings ready each morning, get food in their bellies, to school etc. I want to go back to my roots in a way to perhaps appreciate the struggle… Read More
Resident of Coquitlam, BC. I currently work as a Community Branch Manager at Vancity. At Vancity we work closely with our partners to build healthy communities. Many people in our communities are faced with impossible decisions such as whether to buy food, medications or pay rent. These are basic human needs that I believe should be accessible to all without sacrifice. I hope that by participating in this challenge I will be able to raise awareness for this important issue and help drive the change that is needed.
I live with my husband in Langley raising our 8 children and working fulltime in Vancouver at Vancity as a Learning Coordinator with People Solutions (Human Resources.) I am taking this challenge to bring more awareness to the Welfare and Homeless situation in British Columbia. I really want to understand what it would be like living off $21.00 for a week for food. It is so important to bring this out in the open and get the public more aware of what it’s like living off the monthly welfare rates. I would… Read More
I live in False Creek, Vancouver. I’m part of the marketing team at Vancity. I am taking the Challenge to raise awareness among my network about Raise the Rates. I’m worried about finding food for $21 that will last me for 7 days I’ll be sharing my experience on Twitter – @grcemin
My name is Elizabeth. My husband, Jeff and I, along with our 4 kids, ages 8, 5, 4 and 1 year are curiously (and slightly nervously) awaiting the start of the Raise the Rates Challenge. We would call ourselves a very “healthy” family, both in terms of diet, and it terms of our love of the outdoors, hiking, biking and walking through Pacific Spirit Park. We live in greater Vancouver and often take advantage of our proximity to nature. I am nervous about this challenge because I worry that I will not… Read More
Victoria, BC – I was born in Saskatchewan 60 years ago, and have lived some part of my life in almost every province of this great country. I have traveled as an adult, in a time when I could actually afford such a luxury, to many other countries, making me love and appreciate other cultures and to incorporate customs from them into my daily life. As a child, I was a welfare child, my mother divorced from my father when I was very young. Her inability to cope with living under the… Read More
North Vancouver, Vancouver, BC I have been working within the financial industry for over 20 years. I am committed to doing everything I can to support positive and necessary changes needed within our communities and the people that live within in them. Though I know this challenge is only short term, I feel it will immerse me in understanding what it is really like to live with the experience of hunger and its impact on my well-being. I want to share this experience in a way that allows others to understand the… Read More
Moved from Vancouver West End to Port Coquitlam in April 15 BIO I try to follow people that are inspirational and amazing, (Clara Hughes, Bif Naked, Dr. Jane Goodall, Christine Sinclair to name just a few). About 5 years ago I started to follow BIF NAKED on social media. She is a Canadian icon and one of the most inspirational and talented young women in our country. I followed Bif during her 2014 Welfare Food Challenge. I received a tweet that Bif Naked was once again participating in the 2015 challenge. I… Read More
My name is Alison Andresen and I live and work in Victoria BC. I work for Vancity, a values based financial institution that takes an active role in our communities. In order to understand what these communities face, we need to see and feel what is reality for so many. We live in a world where poverty and inequality are overlooked and all too often swept under the rug. The Welfare Food Challenge shows the stark reality for people who are living live this way. $21 for week’s worth of food …… Read More
I am 34 years old and originally from Australia, via the UK, living in Toronto. I have been here for 3 years now and really love the city I live in and the amazing diversity I see here. But, as I live in a central area of Toronto with an amazing community centre a 100m away who do some fantastic work with homeless and underhoused people, I start to question how ‘well off’ I really am, even when I’m ‘doing it tough.’ I have actually been doing a ‘soft launch’ of this… Read More
I currently live in Artesia, NM, United States. I work for a contractor for the Department of Homeland Security at a training facility, running the post office for part of the day, and taking service calls for the rest of the day. I am taking this challenge, even though I’m not in BC, because I feel that Americans take everything for granted, it is so easy to attain things here, but I realize it is not like that everywhere. I grew up poor in a family of six and beat every obstacle… Read More
On Oct. 27, the Raise the Rates Coalition announced their 4th annual Welfare Food Challenge at the Aboriginal Front Door in Vancouver. Singer Bif Naked is taking the challenge for the second time and new Member of Parliament for Vancouver East, Jenny Kwan, is taking it for the first time. Both women say they will spend that week eating only what food they can buy for $21. Read the full news release here or download the PDF. Stay tuned for updates and follow us on Facebook for all the latest news!