I’m more than half way through the week and counting down the days until the challenge is over. I have more food left than I thought I would at this stage and I’m definitely not at risk of running out. This is good news because I’ll be able to eat a bit more over the next 3 days. And while I admit it feels good to know that I figured out how to make the $21 dollars work, this in no way proves that $21 is a sufficient amount of money for food each week. Far from it.
There are a lot of factors that have contributed to my “success” so far, and my temporary situation is by no means an accurate representation of what it looks like to live on income assistance. Before taking this challenge, I had the opportunity to price shop, meal plan, and use skills learned from my dietetics studies to optimize my purchases. While you don’t need a degree in dietetics to be a smart shopper or good cook, my nutrition background has definitely been an advantage. I also have a fully stocked kitchen – there isn’t much in the way of cooking equipment that I don’t have. Sure, the meals I have prepared this week are simple to make, and don’t require much more than a stove-top (or hot plate), I can’t help but think of people who don’t have a full-stocked kitchen. Or those who don’t have a kitchen at all. Without a functioning kitchen to safely store and prepare food, options become very, very limited.
In spite of these advantages, I’m still coming up short. I’ve been tracking my intake throughout the week, and plan on providing a nutritional breakdown at the end of the challenge. So far I am getting 50-70 percent of what I need energy wise, and there are some key nutrients that are lacking. Over the long term this would lead to nutrient deficiencies, malnutrition, and poor health. I’m lucky to be doing this temporarily. I also have limited choice in terms of what I can eat, and there are absolutely no indulgences. I am avoiding exercise this week, as I don’t have enough energy to go for a run or hit the gym. There is a dull headache that won’t go away, I’m having a hard time focusing, and am getting really irritable.
Income assistance is supposed to be temporary. People don’t intend to end up on welfare and the government doesn’t want to be paying more than it needs to – I get that. But I don’t see how $610 a month, not enough for adequate food and housing, is helpful. Doesn’t this just add barriers and make it harder for people to get back on their feet?
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
- Get involved with Raise the Rates and become an advocate for improving food security in BC
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!