Preparing for the Welfare Food Challenge

This year my partner Earyn and I decided to participate in the Welfare Food Challenge.

Image of food purchase for the weekIssues of climate change, food security and poverty are deeply connected although we don’t always think of those connections when talking about government policies or the price of groceries at the store. These are issues that Earyn and I often talk about over meals and we are looking forward to reflecting back to these themes during the challenge.

A single person on welfare receives $610 a month. The average rent of a single-room occupancy unit in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver is $450 a month, leaving $160 a month for food, clothing, transit and other basic expenses. After subtracting money for transit and a phone, Raise the Rates BC estimates that individuals have $21 a week left for groceries. Together Earyn and I have a combined total of $42 for groceries during the week of the Welfare Food Challenge.

We chose the grocery store we knew had the lowest overall prices and made food choices based on sales of the week. Our only splurge was a bottle of hot sauce, since both of us were worried about our food being bland and repetitive.

Our most exciting item, a pumpkin picked up post-Halloween, was a steal at $1.50 and will provide flavour for meals and the seeds will be an exciting (an only) salty snack.

We tried to get a balance of veggies, protein and high-fibre foods but it just wasn’t possible on our week’s $42 budget for two.

We look forward to sharing our thoughts with you as we move through the week.

Follow the challenge with us and support the 170,000 individuals in BC who haven’t received a raise in over seven years.

Sign the petition calling for an increase to the welfare rates in BC

List of food items purchase: Brown jasmine rice, black beans, steel cut oats, crunchy peanut butter, canned diced tomatos, large eggs, margarine, frozen spinach, russet potatoes, bananas, onion, beets, whole wheat bread, pumpkin, garlic, hot sauce, Italian seasoning, crushed red pepper, sea salt = $37.48