Welfare Food Challenge 2015: Could you Survive on 21 Dollars a Week for Food?

21dollarsaweek2“Should I have peanut butter or chicken?” I asked my husband, already knowing my answer.

“I think peanut butter” he said. “It’s more versatile.” Good answer.

“Yeah, that’s what I was thinking.” I was trying to decide whether or not to spend $4.00 on a few chicken thighs, or $3.00 on a jar of peanut butter. I was having a hard time justifying the extra dollar on chicken, even though I needed some more protein for the week. Peanut butter seemed to make the most sense anyways. I’d be able to have it every day, I like it, and I don’t have to cook it. Straight out of the jar. That will do.

This year, I am participating in the Welfare Food Challenge. For one week starting tomorrow I have $21 to spend on food. For the entire week. No donations or charity. No gleaning from my garden or deep-freeze. Why only $21? That is how much it is estimated that residents in BC who are on income assistance have to spend on food per week.  I can tell you without even completing this challenge that $21 is not enough. You probably know that too.

Income Assistance in BC

  • Over 175, 000 people in BC are on welfare – 30,000 are children
  • 65% of people on welfare have disabilities
  • Welfare rates have been frozen since April 2007
  • A single person receives $610/month on welfare
  • The poverty line in BC is $1,500/month

Nonetheless, I’m keen to do the challenge. Primarily, to raise awareness for this issue, but also to have a deeper understanding of food insecurity. The welfare rates in BC need to be increased, and this challenge is a way to bring the issue to the forefront of media discussions. This week, I’ll be blogging daily about my experience, sharing what I ate, how I’m feeling, etc. As a dietetics student, this is a good opportunity for me to learn firsthand what food insecurity feels like. A little bit of empathy can go a long way.

The Welfare Food Challenge is in its 4th year, and is growing in popularity. Last week musician Bif Naked signed up for the second year and MP Jenny Kwan announced her involvement this year. This is important, because poverty in BC is an important issue that isn’t talked about enough. Hopefully this year, there will be more media coverage that sparks a province wide discussion on raising the welfare rates.

How to Support the Welfare Food Challenge

  • Retweet, like, comment on, and share posts on social media with the hashtag #WelfareFoodChallenge
  • Sign the petition to ask Premier Christy Clark to raise the welfare rates

Do you think $21 a week is enough for food? Do you think that welfare rates in BC should be raised? Let me know in the comments section below. Don’t forget to share and like this post!

1 Comment

  1. Linda says:

    Good for you for doing this. I sponsored one of my students who did this earlier in the year, or last year, and I remember thinking how difficult it would be to survive on such a small amount. It seems that our grocery bill gets higher every month, especially as we are trying to make more conscious decisions about what we buy and eat. I remember her Facebook friends were offering to make food and cups of tea for her (which she respectfully declined as she wanted to do the challenge properly) and I wondered at the time as to whether those same people would extend such kindness to people who’s reality is having to survive on $21 a week. I’m looking forward to seeing how inventive you will be with your limited options.

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