End of Challenge


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Today marks the end of the welfare food challenge. But please let it be the start or push of continuing our education and advocacy towards raising these rates, and creating a more inclusive community for those who are financially oppressed. Because those who are on welfare do NOT choose to be there.

My parents were on welfare when they arrived to Canada as immigrants escaping from the Vietnam War. My two older siblings and parents experienced living on the cruel $800/month for a four-person family on welfare. With the privileges I hold, I feel accountable for voicing their struggles, which were silenced through language barriers and fear of not receiving support. Today is the end of my challenge, but really it is just the beginning of my education and advocacy. ‪#‎raisetherates‬

P.S. today @4pm 101.9FM tune in to hear about my final reflections on the challenge, also here are some videos of our project being covered by Global BC news and, Fairchild TV:



Radio Show: http://feeds.feedburner.com/citr/pqhm


Day 7

Day 7 (LAST DAY) – Reflection:


Today was fun. I boothed at the Totem Park Commons Block where 1st years live, and engaged in dialogue with dozens of people. I also gave them the option to sign the petition to raise the rates if they were interested.

What I experienced this evening was a reminder as to why we need to create awareness, and why we need to engage in dialogue to create a safe space for people to learn, make mistakes, and get thinking. Today, I had dozens of conversations with students at UBC – educating them on the poor welfare state BC has. I heard many comments like: “these people are lazy and need to find work”, “if we increase welfare rates then our taxes will go up”, or “increasing welfare rates will mess up the economy” and more. People even gave me advice on how to spend my $21 a week more efficiently. But the fact is that $21 is simply not enough money. I am a healthy, resourceful individual who even has some culinary training at the Arts institute, and I know how to use my $. Overall, this evening was a great energetic reminder that awareness is needed, especially at over privileged place like UBC. This evening reminded me that the work I am doing is needed, because many people are still not aware of these social problems, and education is the key to create more safe spaces and improve our welfare state.

So I apologize if I came off as aggressive or pushy when trying to reach my points because I do want you to learn – however, I acknowledge that if I am angry – well, its hard for you to get my message. I will work on this. But thank you, everyone for stopping by at my booth to engage in amazing conversation for the past four hours! I have just two more hours left until this challenge ends, and I can truly say it has been humbling and the start to my education and advocacy in increasing welfare rates.

Day 6

Day 6

Wow, was today ever a great day for awareness – this project was published in 3 different newspapers! I AM SO HAPPY!

The 24 hour newspaper: http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2014/10/20/welfare-rates-a-strain-on-kids-student

The Georgia Straight: http://www.straight.com/news/753491/samantha-truong-what-i-learned-taking-welfare-food-challenge .

I will also have a 30 minute show with the CiTR 101.9FM @4pm on Thursday October 23! Tune in!

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Day 5


I did some cooking in the kitchen, and the photo with all the containers is all the food I will be eating until the end of my challenge. I am quite pleased with my “casserole” – it consists of shredded potatoes, carrots, broccoli, and tomato paste. And half an hour in the oven, I also baked some potato chucks and tossed it in there to get some variety in texture! For dinner, I had instant noodles – this time I used my veggie broth remainder to boil the noodles in, rather than plain hot water that added some nice flavouring. I wasn’t able to take a photo of my breakfast and lunch, but I had oatmeal again for breakfast, and veggies/ egg for lunch.

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During the start of my challenge, hunger is what affected me the most. However these past few days, I have noticed myself stressing over the amount of time I have to put in my day, just to ensure that I have access to food. Having to cook my own food to save money, versus buying something from a restaurant or cafe has taken an incredible amount of time out of my schedule. And as a result, I have to stay up later to do assignments, and therefore getting less sleep. And well, having less sleep can and does negatively affect me in multiple ways

Second to this – many people have made comments relating to weight-loss during my challenge in a positive manner, comments such as, “Wow, I should try this, I can lose weight!” have been tossed around. I wanted to take this time to address that this challenge is not meant to be a diet, and that it is to raise awareness that welfare rates are NOT an adequate amount of money to live on. I find it so interesting that this comment has occurred more then three times from separate individuals. A healthy way of losing weight should not require one to be hungry or malnourished.

Fact of the day (taken from bill @ http://welfarefoodchallenge.org/):

Total Poverty in BC

Low welfare rates are part of the picture of poverty in BC, which is the worst in Canada. In BC 735,000 people, 16.5% of the population are in poverty. BC’s child poverty level 18.6%, 153,000 children. People live in poverty because of inadequate welfare rates, low wages and poverty pensions.

Day 4


I did some cooking in the kitchen. Lunches consist of raw carrots, broccoli, celery, a few chunks of baked potato, and a boiled egg. My dinner is pasta with canned tomato sauce and canned chickpeas. I decided to boil some of my veggies to spice things up. I saved the broth that remained when boiling my veggies, because I plan to re-heat this and cook my instant noodles in it for some more nutrients – because instant noodles just isn’t enough.

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Spreading the awareness:

Today I was interviewed by the 24 hour newspaper, and they will be covering this project in their Tuesday October 21st addition. So please stay tuned and collect a hard copy.

Here is a photo from my first interview with the CiTR. I will be doing another interview with the CiTR 101.9FM on Thursday October 23rd at 4:00pm to discuss the end of my challenge and reflections and a poverty reduction plan.


Fact of the day (taken from bill @ http://welfarefoodchallenge.org/):

Total Poverty in BC
Low welfare rates are part of the picture of poverty in BC, which is the worst in Canada. In BC 735,000 people, 16.5% of the population are in poverty. BC’s child poverty level 18.6%, 153,000 children. People live in poverty because of inadequate welfare rates, low wages and poverty pensions.

Day 3

Today, I ate breakfast and dinner, but no lunch. I ran out of time to cook pasta in the kitchen, so I skipped lunch and drank a cup of almond milk instead. This did not help with the hunger. One thing I have realized is how much time it takes to save money. I am so used to lining up 5 minuets for a sandwich at the nearest fast food joint – having to bus off campus to buy groceries and then cook my meals can easily take four to six hours out of my day, which I cannot commit to in the middle of mid-term season.

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Fact of the day (taken by bill @ http://welfarefoodchallenge.org/):

Number of People on Welfare in BC

In August 2014, there were 177,778 people on welfare in BC. The number of people on welfare has stayed around 180,000 since 2010, when the recession hit BC. The majority of people on welfare, 108,051, are people with disabilities. There are over 20,000 people with some barriers to work, but not enough qualify for the disability rate. The number of people on welfare expected to work is 41,581. This is still nearly 10,000 up on the number 2008, before the recession.

Day 2

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Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner.

Friday was an eventful day. I woke up at 8:00am and ate my oatmeal. By 10:00am, I was already very hungry because my oatmeal was not very filling. So I began to eat my lunch at 10:00am. With no dipping sauce or salt, my lunch was very flavourless, and I actually only ate half of it because I didn’t like the taste. I would have rather been hungry then to eat my vegetables. And that says something on its own – I mean, I imagine those that are on welfare would, as well have some dietary restrictions and/or favour other meals over another. Not having my hummus or ranch sauce to use really brought my mood down. I didn’t like my veggies and when my co-workers went out for lunch, I stayed behind because I didn’t want to be tempted. When three o’clock hit, I went home and ate my dinner – pasta and tomato sauce with canned chick peas. I knew I shouldn’t have but I couldn’t believe how out of touch I was when hungry. By then time eight o’clock hit, I ate my dinner portion, which was supposed to be saved for the following day. So now I am one dinner short, and will have to think of something because the last few days of my challenge looks like I will not have enough food.


I acknowledge that I am an able bodied, young, and privileged teen participating in this challenge. There have been times when I have been hungry in this challenge for just an hour or so and it’s been terrible. I was not nearly as efficient at work and school, nor was attentive in my conversations with friends. Having to actually experience welfare not through choice (as I am), is something I could not even imagine.We really need to raise the rates, because honestly, feeling hungry is crap.

Day 1

10:30am: I had some instant oatmeal, a box of Quaker oats that was on sale for $2.47, which included ten packets. This comes to 25 cents for breakfast. This was physically not very filling, but mentally it satisfied me and lasted me up until 3:00pm.


3:00pm – 6:00pm: that’s another story. I was hungry – more like “hangry” -while I was grocery shopping.

6:00pm: When I got home, I way too hungry to go in the kitchen and make something, so I boiled a kettle of water and made myself a pack of instant noodles. I bought a total of three packs – as I want to try to avoid junk food during this challenge. But honestly, a 29 cent meal was just way too tempting for my budget to not fully resist.


12:00am: I am hungry, and I need to stay up to finish this blog and my readings. I am tempted to just go to sleep to avoid this hunger, but I really need to finish this reading.

I spent a total of 54 cents today. Yes, that was very cheap but ate really unhealthily. I had two instant meals – my body is resenting me right now. Tomorrow, I will allow myself to eat a full $3.5 worth of food tomorrow and get some great nutritious food in me.

Day 1 – Complete. Good night, friends.

1 more day before the challenge

One more day.

My day consisted of planning my meal for the next seven days, and it looks like I am going to have to compromise a nutritious diet for a more affordable one instead. As I am in the middle of mid-terms, I realized that I have been so caught up in school that I do not even have a kitchen where I live. So completing this challenge will be harder then I expected.

I must confess, I have reached a point of discomfort already, even before starting my challenge. As I practice potential ways to cook in my dorm room, I have utilized my microwave in ways I have never thought I would. I have microwaved my raw eggs as a source of affordable protein to eat, and let me tell you – from an insider’s perspective, it isn’t half bad, but only microwave it for sixty seconds for two eggs, as 90 seconds will cause it to be tough (trust me, I would know).

In addition to my cooking shenanigans, I have gotten in contact with the Georgia straight, the CiTR and the UBC Talon newspaper – all which are interested to publish and promote this challenge. I will be interviewed live by Morgan from the CiTR this Friday October 17 at 5:15pm, so please tune in to 101.9 to support and listen! I am so overwhelming excited from this, and hope that I can attract more attention to this cause as the week continues. If you are unable to participate in this challenge, please sign this petition in support of my challenge. http://www.change.org/p/christy-clark-raise-social-assistance-rates-in-bc

Thank you!