2017 Welfare Food Challenge: $710 is NOT enough!

We have launched our 2017 Welfare Food Challenge over at !

Let’s be real: While the new government is taking steps, these steps are much too small and much too slow to begin to tackle the depth of poverty that people on welfare have to fight against, every day. Even with a $100 raise to income assistance, our food challenge is only $1 more in the week than last year. This means that we are challenging YOU to budget and survive on only $19/week for food.

We are running the Welfare Food Challenge this year from Wednesday November 1st to Tuesday November 7th. 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

Please sign up here:

And if you can’t participate this year, please get a colleague, friend, family member or acquaintance to sign up—most importantly, start the conversation.

Start the conversation because so many people think we no longer need to continue it.

$710 is not enough.

Raise the Rates is fighting to end poverty and homelessness.  If you have any questions or would like to participate, please contact Kell Gerlings at or 778.871.0141

Why $19 for a Week’s food?


Total welfare $710
Rent (realistic rent for an SRO)* $548
Room damage deposit $20
Bus fare ($6 compass card, 2.20/trip, or 10 trips at 2.85) (to look for work) $28
Cell phone (to look for work) $25
Personal hygiene/laundry $10
Total of all non-food expenditures $631
What’s left for food   $79

$79/m * 12 months = $948 a year

$948/a year/365 days = ~$2.60 a day

~$2.60 a day * 7 days = $18.2, rounded up to $19

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

Note on SRO rent:

The most recent report coming from the Carnegie Community Action Project shows that the average lowest rent in SRO hotels in the DTES is $548. This contrasts with the Provincial government’s shelter allowance portion of welfare of $375 a month.

(Reference: Carnegie Community Action Project, Out of Control: The Rate of Change and Rents in the Downtown Eastside, page 8 of 24