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Can You Spend Just $3 Per Day on Food?

Tomorrow is World Food Day. To mark the occasion, thousands of Canadians will challenge themselves to spend just $21 per week (or $3 per day) on food – the amount a welfare recipient typically relies on. And no, you can’t receive free food or “donations” from your parents. This is for real because it is real for so many

Throughout what was likely an over-indulgent Thanksgiving weekend, we hope you took a minute or two to recognize what you’re thankful for – even if it was just that fully-loaded plate in front of you.

Many Canadians across the country weren’t as lucky.

The 3RD Annual Welfare Food Challenge goes down Thursday, October 16th (World Food Day) until Thursday, October 22nd and asks participants to eat only the food that they can for $21 during that time (yes, that’s $3 per day). The $21 reflects the amount that welfare recipients in British Columbia have to live off of for a week. 

And yes, we’re serious – here’s the typical welfare cheque breakdown for the $610 monthly amount: 

Rent in a single room occupancy building: $450
Damage Deposit: $20
Bus tickets and a cell phone (to seek work): $46
Personal Hygiene Allowance: $10 

For those mathematically challenged, that totals $526, leaving just $21 per week for all other expenses, including food. In other words, the amount per week you might easily spend on caffeine. The idea, of course, is to pressure the government to raise British Columbia welfare rates.

But you don’t have to live in BC to participate. If nothing else, it may serve as a humbling and eye-opening lesson that you could use regardless of where you live.

The welfare rates may be slightly higher (or lower) in other parts of the country… but in general, they still aren’t great. Ontario residents who rely on the Ontario Works welfare program saw a slight increase in benefits last month. Now, single Ontario residents with no children will receive a $30 increase in their monthly cheque to $656 per month.

And while some of you probably wouldn’t have trouble spending that in one weekend, what’s far more important is that it’s below the Ontario poverty line of $23,000 for a single person before taxes.

Celebrities like Bif Naked – who once relied on the welfare system – have gotten behind the cause and will start the $3/day challenge staring tomorrow. 

Will you? 

Officially sign up for the BC challenge here.


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