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

Coroner’s report confirms suicide in Kilmer case

2018 disappearance sparked massive search

Province to pay for Lake Cowichan youngster’s medical treatment

Lake Cowichan toddler only one in B.C. diagnosed with CLN2 Batten disease

Drivesmart column: Headlights and aftermarket fraudulent compliance markings

The “LED bulbs” now flooding the market are not a legitimate, safe, effective, or legal product.

North Cowichan councillor wants more regional control of B.C.’s forests

North Cowichan councillor wants recommendation sent to UBCM

Graduating Cowichan Secondary School student gets $5,000 towards new car

Jared Lammi attended more than 80 per cent of classes this year

PHOTOS: Elusive ‘ghost whale’ surfaces near Campbell River

Ecotourism operator captures images of the rare white orca

Coming up in Cowichan: Spend Father’s Day fishing, or head to the BC Forest Discovery Centre

Deadline coming to register for class reunion The Cowichan Secondary Class of… Continue reading

Victoria mom describes finding son ‘gone’ on first day of coroners inquest into overdose death

Resulting recommendations could change handling of youth records amidst the overdose crisis

Dash-cam video in trial of accused cop killer shows man with a gun

Footage is shown at trial of Oscar Arfmann, charged with killing Const. John Davidson of Abbotsford

Eight U.S. senators write to John Horgan over B.C. mining pollution

The dispute stems from Teck Resources’ coal mines in B.C.’s Elk Valley

Threats charge against Surrey’s Jaspal Atwal stayed

Atwal, 64, was at centre of controversy in 2018 over his attendance at prime minister’s reception in India

Anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr. to speak in Surrey

He’s keynote speaker at Surrey Environment and Business Awards luncheon by Surrey Board of Trade Sept. 17

Otters devour 150 trout at Kootenay hatchery

The hatchery has lost close to 150 fish in the past several months

B.C. church’s Pride flag defaced for second time in 12 days

Delta’s Ladner United Church says it will continue to fly the flag for Pride month

Most Read