Alice Wyche, Day 1

Photo of dahl and rice that Alice Wyche ate for dinner on day 1 of the 2017 Welfare Food Challenge

The most difficult part of today was not having tea or coffee. I usually have a few cups of tea throughout the day… such a basic and seemingly inexpensive item. When it came down to it, food was a higher priority than beverages. After a few cups of hot water today, I started putting a little cinnamon in it. I also noticed that most of my thoughts revolved around food, which isn’t normal for me. I had anxiety about possibly going hungry by the end of the week as well as having… Read More

Stephanie Kallstrom, Day 1

Photo of bread, cheese, and an egg

So I’ve had a headache since I ate breakfast and it’s getting progressively worse. Breakfast sucked, I had a small egg, with cheese on some dry toast. Lunch was worse then breakfast, a cheese sandwich, with the same bread and cheese I had for breakfast. My body was craving nutrition so I ate my banana and guzzled some water. It’s so hard to continue on with my day with this headache looming. I can only hope dinner will be better. I’ve had about three pieces of Halloween candy that had been lingering… Read More

2017 News Release

Photo of welfare food shopping vs healthy food shopping at the 2017 Welfare Food Challenge Launch

For immediate release– November 1st 2017 VANCOUVER, COAST SALISH TERRITORIES While the government has implemented the election promise of raising income assistance by $100, Raise the Rates has launched their 6th Annual Welfare Food Challenge to highlight that this is not enough. The point of the challenge is to raise public awareness on the inhumanely low welfare rates. Raise the Rates challenges the public to live on just $19/week for food. “Last year, the challenge was set at $18. Only $1 more in a week for food, even with the increase. This… Read More

Esther Yuen

Photo of Esther Yuen

Hello! My name is Esther and I live in Renfrew-Collingwood but work in the Downtown Eastside with EMBERS. I am doing the Welfare Food Challenge to learn more about the obstacles people on welfare face when it comes to nutrition, health and wellness. By the end of this experience, I hope to be better equipped to advocate for those struggling with poverty. Follow along on my journey: Blog: Twitter: @eyuen Facebook:

Alice Wyche, RD(t)

Photo fo Alice Wyche

I am a Dietitian living in Nanaimo and working in several roles within my local community. Having recently finished my degree at UBC, I am excited to be able to use my education to help others around me. I come from a background where I have never had to experience hunger or concern about where my next meal will come from. Completing this challenge will give me knowledge about the welfare system in our province and more compassion for those living in poverty. I am surprised that most people I know have… Read More

Ian Marcuse

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I work as the community food developer for the Grandview Woodland Food Connection, a Neighbourhood Food Network based out of Britannia Community Centre and where I have worked for the past 10 years. I am also a 30 year resident of Grandview Woodland with deep roots in the community. I bring to my work a passion for community building and engagement, environmental activism, and commitment to building a more just world. In my position I strive to learn how best to respond to community food needs through an inclusive and dignified community… Read More

Peter Kim

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Peter Kim is the Communications and Digital Engagement Coordinator at Pivot Legal Society. He is doing the welfare food challenge to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges people living with limited financial means face, and raise awareness on the inadequacies of our current social service net; namely, how the current level of support does not align with the economic realities of living in Vancouver and the financial demands placed on individuals. @PeterKimData (Twitter & Instagram)

DJ Larkin

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For almost 5 years I’ve been working for years with people experiencing homelessness and marginal housing, focusing on what systemic changes are needed to improve their circumstances. Over the last 7 months I have travelled the province to hear from people affected by poverty about what would make the most difference in their lives. Two of the things I heard in every location I visited were: affordable housing and income assistance rates that didn’t leave people hungry and homeless. Not only are people starving, they are being criminalized for trying to make… Read More

Katrina Pacey

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My name is Katrina, and I am the Executive Director of Pivot Legal Society. Pivot works on behalf of marginalized communities to create a just, fair, and equal society through litigation, law reform, research, and legal education. I am participating in the 2017 welfare food challenge because of the completely unacceptable situation in BC, which has one of the highest poverty rates in Canada, no poverty reduction plan and appallingly low welfare rates. Even with an increase of $100, we need to do much more. The cost of housing and other necessities… Read More


Photo of Alyson's Family

We are a family of 4 (boys ages 12 and 14). We are going to spend $57 for a week, based on 2 adults and the kids I decided to have them count as half and adult. I work in the school system and know if many families who are struggling to make ends meet. I also hope to raise awareness with our own boys about how they can help and also for them to have a “taste” of what it’s like to have to budget for our food.

Elise Barber

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I am a queer white woman from a middle class background. I have never experienced food insecurity, and I spend my days working with many folks who do. I’m driven to do this challenge because our current welfare rates are appallingly inadequate. We’re long overdue for a substantial increase in rates, and a comprehensive poverty reduction plan. I am facing this next week knowing this is not a challenge that can be won. I hope my experience can serve as an experiential tool for building awareness within myself and my community –… Read More

Mable Elmore

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Mable Elmore was re-elected in 2017 as the Member of the Legislative Assembly for Vancouver-Kensington. In her previous term, she served as the Spokesperson for Temporary Foreign Workers and Immigration and was the Deputy Spokesperson for Finance. This is her third term as she was first elected in 2009 (and re-elected in 2013) — when she made history by becoming the first MLA of Filipino heritage. Mable is passionate about building community engagement and connecting people around issues that matter to them. She has a long-standing record of public service, and has… Read More

Clint Johnston

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Clint Johnston is the BC Teachers’ Federation’s Second Vice-President and has served in that position since July 2016. As well, I currently serve as one of the Vice-Presidents of the Canadian Teachers Federation. I hold a Bachelor of Human Kinetics degree and a Bachelor of Education degree, both from the University of British Columbia. I was born in Chilliwack and taught elementary children there for eight years. Holly (my wife) and I have five children, all of whom are currently in the public education system. At home we eat organically as much… Read More

Susan Ladner

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My name is Susan Ladner and I live in the Okanagan. Irsquo;m taking the challenge again this year because the reality of it all has appeared in my life under the guise of WorkSafeBC. Due to other than compassionate policies….if a citizen was just barely making a living wage, well, good luck in life. WCB doesn’t give a……… And since it’s another government agency that is making sure that the top and all bureaucrats are living in luxury while those below can starve for all they care. Irsquo;m in… almost whether I… Read More

Jean Swanson

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Lately Jean Swanson has been volunteering with Raise the Rates and the Carnegie Community Action Project. She has been working to reduce and end poverty for over 40 years. She wrote a book, Poor Bashing, the politics of exclusion.

Stephanie Kallstrom – Prep for the Challenge

Groceries that Stephanie bought for the 2017 Welfare Food Challenge

Ok all, this post is still about food but it’s not about the cooking I love to do. This year I am participating in the #WelfareFoodChallenge17 were I have to survive for 1 week on $19 worth of food. I will be blogging everyday. #WelfareFoodChallenge17 Okay so I did my shopping tonight for the week… not at Whole Food or Choices and nothing is Organic. I spent $0.15 over my limit but it’s pretty close. $19.15 for a weeks worth of food, feeling optimistic because I managed to get cheese, but I… Read More

The Stott Family

Photo of the Stott Family

East Vancouver. My name is Sarah, and along with my husband Darren, son James (11) and daughter Emma (9), 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… Read More

Jessica Pan

My name is Jessica Pan. I am the Coordinator for the Surrey Poverty Reduction Coalition and Coordinator for the Children’s Partnership Surrey White Rock. I am participating in the challenge because it is appalling in our rich society to have people struggling to make it, not even having their basic needs of food and shelter met. We need to raise awareness that it is not ok that we tolerate poverty, especially for our children. Follow me on Instagram @_jesspan or facebook

Chris Wilson

Photo of Chris Wilson

As a Coquitlam city councillor, I truly care about those in our community – especially those who are disadvantaged. Having an active, healthy lifestyle and social inclusion are two very important parts of my life, but unfortunately for someone living on $710/month, it’s virtually impossible. Metro Vancouver has the highest cost of living in the country, yet our welfare rates are still far too low. From an economic standpoint, I truly believe that raising the rates is a smart and compassionate investment in the future of our province and will deliver a… Read More

Stephanie Kallstrom

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I’ve been working in the Downtown Eastside for 6 years and currently case manage for a shelter. I would have to say that I have been privilege my whole life, to never have to worry about cost of food. I am doing this, because as much as I advocate on a daily basis for the people I work with, living through the experience always makes it “real”. I think sometimes we need a reality check in life, a sort of kick in the pants to realize how truly blessed we are that… Read More

Molina Chow

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My name is Molina Chow, Youth Services Coordinator at Frog Hollow Neighbourhood House. I have heard about this challenge and I wanted to do it this year and I am. Food is a huge staple in the Chinese culture as it revolves around everything. My dad immigrated to Canada with $20 in his pocket. He did it then, can I do it now? I know food cost is high and especially with going gluten free, diary free, egg free, it cost even more so that i can feel good after eating food…. Read More

Nicole Yuen

Photo fo Nicole Yuen

Location: Richmond. To exist as a human being is to live a life filled with loss, tragedy, and heartache. It is an undeniable fact that life is incredibly difficult and complex, and that everyone – regardless of their socioeconomic status – experiences hardship during their time on earth. Perhaps a close family member passes away when you least expect them to. Perhaps years of foster care have left you aimless and confused. Perhaps you have fallen prey to a series of abusive relationships. Perhaps your family and friends think your mental illness… Read More

Marc Cremer

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I am the Housing Manager @ First United Church Social Housing Society, Vancouver Motive for participation: I would like to experience on my own how difficult it is to live / eat on welfare budget.

Katie Raso

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Location: Ottawa. While this is my first year participating in the Welfare Food Challenge, the issue is near and dear to me. I lived in Vancouver for 7 years and am profoundly aware of the high cost of living there. As a former DTES frontline worker, I watched as many of the city’s lower income neighbourhoods gentrified and affordable grocery stores disappeared, making the challenge of filling a basket with $19/week all the more daunting. But this isn’t just a Vancouver issue or a BC issue. That’s why, as an Ottawa resident,… Read More

Salena Gao

Photo of Salena Gao

Hi, my name is Salena! I live in Burnaby but work in Downtown Vancouver. I am very interested in the relationship that we all have with the world and also one another. How can we live happily while those who live down the street from us are unable to feed themselves? I am guilty of this. Although the impoverished community in Vancouver troubles me when I think about it, I have not stepped outside of my comfort zone to try to help or get to understand the situation better. I hope that… Read More

Nyssa Lessingham

Photo of Nyssa Lessingham

This is my first year participating in the Welfare Food Challenge and I’m doing it because I believe that income assistance should be there to support people to get back on their feet when they’re going through a tough time and $710 a month doesn’t cut it. Everyone deserves to live with dignity and the current welfare rate is just not enough to meet one’s basic needs, never mind allow someone to be at their best, to care for their children, or to search for work. I hope to shift both my… Read More

Aaron Guillen

Photo of Aaron Guillen

My name is Aaron Guillen. I’m participating in the Welfare Food Challenge because I’ve realized how much I spend eating out with friends in one night. As a full-time student, I’m always trying to find ways to save money and I’ve never thought about how difficult it is to survive on welfare, let alone one week. I hope to gain a bigger appreciation for the money I spend impulsively. instagram: iaaronguillen twitter: iaaronguillen

Annie Ohana

photo of Annie Ohana

Proud Public Secondary School Educator and Advocate. Surrey, BC. Why? I am taking this on…not as a challenge to make it through..but to fail … and to help teach my students and others … through the voices of millions that are marginalized and punished by welfare rates … the systemic inequality and inhumane reality of our so called “welfare” system. Social media: Facebook: @ohanasj Twitter: ohana_annie Instagram: ohanasj