Welfare Food Challenge taken on by B.C. family of six

A B.C. family with four young children is living off a welfare-level food budget to highlight the challenges faced by those living in poverty.

'We want to convince the government to give more money to people on welfare'

Elizabeth Nider says her family is trading fresh salmon for dried beans so they can live off of $21 per person for food for the week as part of the Welfare Food Challenge. (CBC)

A B.C. family with four young children is living off a welfare-level food budget to highlight the challenges faced by those living in poverty. 

"This week, we're in the bulk section of the store," said Vancouver resident Elizabeth Nider as she reviewed her family's groceries. 

The Niders are used to eating fresh salmon for dinner. But this week, they've taken on the Welfare Food Challenge, an initiative organized by poverty advocates Raise the Rates. The challenge is to live off of only $21 for food, per person, for six days. 

The activity is meant to highlight how difficult it is for those on welfare to buy food, and to pressure the province to raise welfare rates from their current $610 per month — an amount meant to cover expenses including rent, food, and transportation.

The group says 170,000 people live in poverty in B.C., facing challenges every day of the year.

Poverty advocates Raise the Rates say welfare rates need to increase for people to be able to afford to eat. (CBC)

It's a message Elizabeth Nider and her eight-year-old son, Yosef, agree with. 

"We want to convince the government to give more money to people on welfare," said Yosef Nider.

Elizabeth Nider also says the challenge serves to educate her children about those who are less fortunate than they are. 

"I wanted to expose my kids to the fact that many people are using welfare, and it could even be people that we know," said Elizabeth Nider. 

B.C. celebrity Bif Naked took on the challenge for the second year in a row, as did B.C. NDP MP Jenny Kwan, who says she wants to make poverty reduction a federal issue.

"We need a national strategy to end poverty," said Kwan. "In a country as rich as ours, we can do this."

With files from Dan Burritt

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