Starting on World Food Day, Sunday October 16, BC Teachers' Federation President Glen Hansman will join other concerned citizens in participating in the 2016 Welfare Food Challenge. For one week participants will try to meet the challenge that British Columbians living on welfare face every week: surviving on a meagre food budget of $18.
The challenge is sponsored by Raise the Rates, which advocates for an end to the nine-year freeze on BC's inadequate welfare rate of $610 per month for single people.
“The Welfare Food Challenges provides an opportunity to bring greater public understanding of the extreme poverty of families on welfare, and the terrible costs in suffering among our most vulnerable students,” Hansman said.
“BC continues to have a shameful rate of child poverty-among the highest in Canada. Every day teachers are seeing firsthand the damaging effects of poverty and hunger on the learning and general health of children and youth.”
A 2015 study by BCTF Research found that one in six BC teachers have classes in which anywhere from half to all of the students are living in poverty and require support to overcome educational barriers related to economic and social injustice.
“BC is an incredibly expensive place in which to live, and the affordability crisis only compounds the challenges facing people on welfare. The BC Liberals boast of having the strongest economy in the country and a $2 billion surplus. Clearly, it's time to implement a comprehensive poverty reduction plan to meet the needs of poor children and families in such a prosperous province.”
Hansman acknowledged that the Welfare Challenge can only give participants a quick glimpse into the realities of poverty. “Those of us who take this challenge are fully aware that we are very privileged in choosing to live on a poverty diet for just one week, while 200,000 British Columbians face this harsh reality week in and week out,” he said. “However, I feel sure that the experience will fuel our advocacy work in continuing to push for a fair raise to welfare rates in BC.”
Hansman will be tweeting about his #WelfareFoodChallenge experiences throughout the week: @GlenHansman.
For more information about the Welfare Food Challenge, please go to: https://welfarefoodchallenge.org/2016challenge/