Raise the Rates’ 5th Annual Welfare Food Challenge!!!

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Raise the  Rates
5th Annual Welfare Food Challenge
Starting October 16, 2016

This is an invitation to join Raise the Rates’ Annual Welfare Food Challenge in October, 2016. The previous 4 years of the Challenge were all a great success. The Challenge is for one week, eating only what can be purchased with the money a welfare recipient receives.

Over 600 people have so far taken the Challenge and this year, 2016, we aim to make it the biggest ever. Raise the Rates is working hard to make poverty an election issue in 2017.

The Challenge highlights the inadequacy of welfare rates in BC. A single person receives only $610 a month, frozen for over 9 years. Raise the Rates, with others, is working to raise public awareness of the extreme poverty of people on welfare; and how this poverty costs the people of BC in human suffering and billions of wasted dollars every year.

Participants have come from across the province and included families, school and university students, elected representatives, union leaders, businesspeople, workers and seniors, as well as ‘celebrities’ such as Bif Naked. We gained good mainstream and social media coverage.

The Challenge will start on World Food Day, Sunday October 16, 2016 and run for a full 7 days. Due to the rising cost of rent, even for single room occupancy (SRO) in the Downtown Eastside participants will be expected to live on only the food they can purchase with $18 dollars. (See over for calculation). This calculation is based on the expectation that welfare recipients will have to pay rent and damage deposit, cell phone (necessary to look for work and contact the welfare office) and personal hygiene. We have dropped buying bus tickets, which is what many people on welfare often do, so that there is some money left for food. They either walk or hope for the goodwill of bus drivers – which is usually the case, but they do risk a $173 fine. Out of $610 there is very little money left for food.

The aim of the Challenge is raise public awareness about the poverty of people on welfare and the need for change. To help publicize the Challenge, we hope you will document and publicize your experiences. This could include:

  • Writing blog posts for our website
  • Posting directly to your own social media
  • Attending a news conference and speaking to the media about your experiences of the challenge
  • Sharing your experiences with your friends, family, community members, and policy makers

For more information about the Welfare Food Challenge visit: Maybe take the Challenge in a group, with friends or colleagues. Thank you for considering taking the Welfare Food Challenge. Your contribution to raising awareness and creating policy change is important. If you have any questions or would like to participate, please contact Bill Hopwood at or 604 738-1653

We will continue to campaign to raise public awareness about the inadequacy of welfare rates and the costs of poverty and eventually the government will have to act.


Bill Hopwood

Raise the Rates, Organizer


Why $18 for a Week’s food?

Total welfare   $610
Rent (realistic rent for an SRO)* $479  
Room damage deposit $20  
No bus tickets – walk everywhere $0  
Cell phone (to look for work) $25  
Personal hygiene/laundry $10  
Total of all non-food expenditures $534  
What’s left for food   $76

$76 x 12 months                                          $912        for a year

$912 a yr/365 days                                      $2.50       a day

$2.50 x 7 days                                              $17.50     a week

Allow $18 for a week’s food                                    

No money for clothes, transit, a coffee, haircuts, or any social life or treats.

* Note on SRO rent:

SROs are the cheapest accommodation in Vancouver.

The City of Vancouver found that the average rent of an SRO is now $479 a month. This contrasts with the Provincial government’s shelter allowance portion of welfare of $375 a month.

( page 14)