Today was the last day of the Welfare Food Challenge. I’m excited for it to be over (and even have a bag of chips teed up for midnight), but saddened at the same time. For many people in this province, the challenge continues – $3/day for food is their reality.
It’s been hard to be honest about how I’ve felt this week. I know that a lot of people on income assistance have been following the blogs and social media posts from the challengers, and I don’t want to offend anyone or come across ungrateful. At the same time I think it’s important to talk about the stomach aches, hunger pangs, lack of focus, and excessive salivating that happens whenever I see, smell, or think about food (that was unexpected). We need to have an honest conversation about food insecurity in this province and what it feels like – that is the whole point of doing this challenge. Yes it’s temporary. Yes I’m in this by choice, but my experience is real nonetheless.
I’ve been thinking about the long term consequences of eating this way. For starters, it’s stressful. At the beginning of the challenge, I wasn’t sure if my food would last the week so I was eating a bit less just to be safe. Even when I realized that I would make it without running out, I still worried about it. All the time. In fact, I seemed to think about food all the time. I was also scared I would have a moment of weakness and overeat, putting myself in jeopardy of running out later in the week. Imagine what that would feel like week after week, month after month.
I’m also tired of eating the same thing meal after meal. After just one week this may seem petty, but variety is what makes food enjoyable. It also increases the chances of a nutritionally adequate diet. $21 a week does not give one an opportunity to have a varied diet, and meeting nutritional needs is not possible. Do people on welfare not deserve to enjoy their food or have adequate nutrition? Why have we decided this is acceptable?
The week is over and the Welfare Food Challenge has stopped for those who chose to partake, but the fight for food security in this province needs to continue.
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!