Taking the Welfare Food Challenge

Welfare rates are ridiculously low in BC and haven’t increased in 7 years, even though the cost of living continues to rise. To help raise awareness, Emily and I have decided to participate in the Welfare Food Challenge. For 7 days, our food budget will be the same as two people on welfare – $42 ($21 each).

I expect this to be a difficult challenge. I’m generally a cheap person, but food is one area where I’m willing to spend more for quality. I like buying local, organic food and shopping at the farmers market. I also enjoy eating out. On average, we spend $120 on groceries each week plus another $150 on restaurants. Cutting that down to $42 is not going to be easy. It might be impossible.

If Soylent was cheaper, I might consider experimenting with it, but it costs $10/day. Our plan is to buy the cheapest, most nutritionally dense foods we can afford. That means we’ll be eating a lot of oatmeal, rice, and beans with only a few vegetables and maybe some fruit (and we won’t be shopping at Urban Fare or Whole Foods). Homemade bread, essentially just flour, yeast, and water, will also help stretch our food budget.


  1. You seem to have missed the point… a family of two would not get 21.00 each to share. They would only get that if you were two single units living apart. Not sharing. Your rate for two adults living and both working as a couple is the same as a single male living alone. You would BOTH have to make it on 21.00 a week. Not 42 ! and sharing. Go back and restart and then see….



    • Well, the challenge as laid out by Raise the Rates clearly states $21 per person. But they’ve done their calculation assuming a single person on welfare renting an SRO.

      You’re right that couples with no children get penalized for welfare (which helps explains why 81% of welfare recipients are singles and only 3% are couples with no children). Living with a partner makes sense for most costs (sharing a one bedroom apartment and bulk buying food), but you get penalized for welfare.

      The food calculation is not as simple as $21 per couple per week. A couple on welfare gets $877.22 (instead of $610 for an individual). What you have left for food would all depend on how cheaply you could find a one-bedroom apartment for. It could be more or less than $21.


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