Food challenge leaves numbers to chew on

It seems like an impossible task. Living with a food budget of just $18 per week. And yet that’s what people living

It seems like an impossible task.

Living with a food budget of just $18 per week.

And yet that’s what people living on welfare cheques face every day of their lives according to Raise the Rates, a group fighting for higher welfare and disability rates.

To really drive the point home the group annually issues the Raise the Rates Welfare Food Challenge, where politicians and others are challenged to adhere to the $18 per week budget faced by those less fortunate.

Think the $18 is just a bid for attention? An exaggeration of what those on social assistance must live with?

It’s actually not hard to believe at all when one learns that a typical welfare cheque is just $610 per month to cover rent, security deposit, phone and personal hygiene — the very basic categories deemed essential needs.

Think about what you pay per month for these things. Not too hard to imagine there’s just $18 left to put food on the table.

MP Jenny Kwan launched the challenge this year and talked a bit about her own experience in taking it in 2015.

She said she got so hungry she had to go to sleep to try to get away from it, and that she became obsessed with food. She couldn’t be around people who were eating and drinking.

It was, in other words, socially isolating.

That, too, is not very surprising when we consider that food is often a very social thing in our society.

Cafes and restaurants dot our towns and communities. We sit down with family for meals, especially on special occasions. Food is something to enjoy and savour.

But for those who can’t afford to join in, food becomes something else entirely. It is a hurdle, an obstacle, something that may even provoke fear.

There can be profound psychological implications from an extended period of time spent worrying about and not having enough food.

It is particularly hard on children. Their health and development is directly related to having enough food.

For those taking the food challenge it’s an uncomfortable time, but they can rest easy in the knowledge that it will end.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel and they know when the challenge concludes they can sit down with a favourite meal and a glass of wine.

But that’s not the case for those who live the challenge every day. The number of people who do, just in this province, is 185,000 people, according to Raise the Rates. That’s a big number to chew on.

Just Posted

Subdivision proposal raises densification questions in Maple Bay neighbourhood

North Cowichan’s council votes 4-3 to allow project on Westlock Road

Editorial: Crofton development’s affordable housing component promising

Crofton has long been a slightly more affordable haven for young families and retirees

Kerry Park’s new goalie is perfect in VIJHL debut

Charles-Olivier Lepage shuts out high-powered Storm

Longtime resident and business owner Garry Bruce running for Duncan city council

I have been a resident in the City of Duncan for more than 60 years

Double heartbreak for Cowichan Capitals at BCHL Showcase

Caps edged in OT one night, give up winner with 4.5 seconds left the next day

VIDEO: Tour de Rock rider says event provides badly needed support

Cancer survivor and volunteer firefighter Nicole Emery speaks about importance of fundraising tour

Trump boasts of America’s might, gets laugh at UN

President Donald Trump received an unexpected laugh at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday.

Federal use of A.I. in visa applications could breach human rights, report says

Impacts of automated decision-making involving immigration applications and how errors and assumptions could lead to “life-and-death ramifications”

Rattie scores 3 as Oilers blank Canucks 6-0

Vancouver slips to 1-5 in exhibition play

Veterans Affairs ordered to take second look before supporting vets’ relatives

Liberal government ordered officials to adopt a more critical eye

Dead B.C. motorcyclist was member of group that raced down mountain road

Some group members record their rides on Strathcona Parkway and post times to page

Indigenous athletes in spotlight at BC Sports Hall of Fame

New gallery to feature Carey Price, Kaila Mussel and Richard Peter

B.C. couple who went missing on flight from Edmonton named by family

Family released a statement Wednesday saying they’re still intent on finding the two-seater plane

VIDEO: A close look at what you were breathing during the B.C. wildfire season

Electron microscope images show soot and tar particles generated by worst B.C. fire season

Most Read