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

A new laundromat is opening in the Peters Centre in Lake Cowichan. (file photo)
Peters Centre getting all cleaned up

Laundromat being developed at the Neva Road site

Robert's column
Robert Barron column: Skyrocketing house prices a tragedy

North Cowichan councillor Rosalie Sawrie brought an interesting perspective to a discussion… Continue reading

Soaker hoses laid down over corn seedlings, soon to be covered with mulch, will see to the watering needs of the bed through any summer drought. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Investing in soaker hoses is money well-spent

No-till gardening has a distinct advantage during drought

Karl McPherson, left, and Mary Morrice are the new head coach and general manager, respectively, at the Duncan Dynamics Gymnastics Club. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Manager charts a new course for Duncan Dynamics

More recreational programs to join competitive teams

Cute but fierce! Timber moonlights as an attack kitty. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)
Sarah Simpson Column: Beware of Mr. Bite, the midnight attacker

Last week, in the middle of the night, I was awoken by… Continue reading

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Most Read