This is my last day today and just in time as I am very low on food and have to eat smaller meals today. I have felt hungry most of the time for the last 2 days. I learned a lot during my week on the welfare challenge. It is hard to pick the top 5 but here they are.
When I started the challenge I decided to hold back some money in case I planned poorly at the outset. I’m glad I did as I have been worried about running out of food but at least I have the sense I can still get more with my last 5 dollars. I try to imagine what I would do if I was on welfare and some unexpected cost came up. It would be a disaster. Five dollars does not really buy much protein and that is what I am low on.
I get lots of advice on how to manage my $26 of food. It is usually very sound advice and I appreciate it. Honestly though? Not going to happen. Before I started the Challenge, I decided to research some menu ideas. Started with a healthy eating cookbook I regularly use.
A good question posed last night at the Vancouver Food Policy Council meeting. Several of us on the Welfare Food Challenge were invited to talk about the issue of food security and people’s right to food. I was surprised at the turnout but also the keen interest of people in the Challenge.
My apologies for misusing President Bill Clinton”s 1992 campaign slogan “it’s the economy stupid”. He used it to score votes during a recession. Here in BC, one of the most common arguments I hear for why we can’t invest in poverty reduction is that the economy is bad and we can’t afford it right now. My experience on the welfare food challenge has brought home to me how really false is that excuse.
Now that I have gone grocery shopping, it has hit home to me that I might run out of food before the end of the week. Obviously this is not a huge problem for me doing this just for a week. So I fast for a day. No big deal. I know it is very time limited. But it brought home for me the real stress this must place on someone on welfare.
I work for Vancouver Coastal Health in the public health field where we believe in preventing illness and improving the health of eveyone rather than waiting for people to fall ill. I am married with 3 adult children. I live in Richmond. I currently co-chair the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition. As a person working in health care I am concerned that people don’t know that poverty makes people sick and that it creates huge costs for society especially the health care system.
The challenge seems to have really struck a chord with folks I work with. Several have related to me personal stories about life on social assistance – perhaps as a child growing up or about a friend or relative on welfare. I keep expecting someone to tell me that it’s no big deal to manage on $26 of food for a week. But no one has said that.