Raise the Rates Welfare Food Challenge 2016

This year I’m participating in the Welfare Food Challenge.  For one week, October 16-22, I will eat only what I can buy with $18.

Why $18? This is the amount that Raise the Rates has calculated to remain after a person on welfare has covered their basic monthly expenses.

The purpose of the challenge is to raise awareness of the inadequacy of the current welfare system to support the health of people who need it.  With rising costs of single-room occupancy housing, the amount available to spend on food has dropped by $3 from $21 last year. Combine the low amount with the rising cost of food in the city, and it’s just not possible to meet one’s nutritional requirements.  To top it off, the people who require social assistance tend to already experience poor health and this have greater nutritional needs.

For more information on the challenge, please visit https://welfarefoodchallenge.org.

First purchase to get the week started! $12.25 so far

To raise awareness of the need to increase base welfare rates, along with 2 fellow SVNH staff and 3 other Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks colleagues I will be blogging about my experiences through the week.

Unfortunately I have been sick for the past few days, and so I’m starting the challenge already feeling tired and drained.  But the people who live on $18 for food week to week don’t have optimal health, and don’t have the chance after one week to regain their energy.

To compensate for my low energy I will do my shopping in split purchases, because I couldn’t travel around to different locations as I had planned. That said, I did want to put aside about $4 to spend on fresh produce partway through the week anyway.

It’s going to be a tough week, but I look forward to sharing my experience with you, and hope I can spread the message that we need to do better to improve the health of our society’s most vulnerable members!

Laura – SVNH Community Food Programmer

Instagram: SVNH_Food


Please visit welfarefoodchallenge.org to learn about Raise the Rates and the Welfare Food Challenge.

To learn how you can help: https://welfarefoodchallenge.org/take-action/ or https://nopovertybc.ca/

Please consider signing the petition to help raise the Welfare rates in BC to a livable amount!

SVNH Homelessness Action Week Workshops have begun!

Homelessness Action Week (HAW) is a collaborative of communities and organizations designed to raise public awareness of homelessness and support local solutions.  HAW is organized by the Greater Vancouver Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness.

South Vancouver Neighbourhood House (SVNH) is proud to be participating in HAW 2016 by holding a series of youth-led workshops for BC Housing residents in South Vancouver.  Workshops will focus on key issues such as food security and affordable housing.  Currently, 55% of the population in Champlain Heights are youth aged 13-24 years of age.  The SVNH project, NEW HEIGHTS, will build on challenges identified for housing and homelessness to engage youth to create community relationships and structures that support youth and caring adults to reclaim their community and transform the neighbourhood.  Key challenges identified to address youth homelessness are: 1. Linking food security programming with housing, 2. Creating collaborations for housing resources, 3. Lack of job development schemes for vulnerable populations and 4. Lack of community.

NEW HEIGHTS kicked off in August by engaging a working group of 25 youth who were involved with BC Housing STEP program, a summer pre-employment program with job training/placements for youth ages 15-18 years. Volunteers from this core group of youth are partnering with a volunteer team of newcomer youth as a Youth Advisory Council to train, plan and host two food security workshops and one Community Dinner celebration in October.  These workshops are designed to build community connections in Champlain and increase food security and awareness of food justice issues.  The Community Dinner will serve as a resource night to celebrate and build capacity of the Champlain neighbourhood to raise awareness of youth homelessness and leverage opportunities to address affordable housing needs in conjunction with food justice in South Vancouver.

Resource Night / Community Dinner: October 21, 5:00-8:30pm at Champlain Community Centre.  Space is limited; if you are interested in attending please email foodandliteracy@southvan.org or call 604-324-6212.

A big thank you to Lupii Café for their generous support of this initiative by providing training workshops for the Youth Advisory Council, for lending their space, and for helping prepare the Community Dinner.



Mayor Gregor Robertson presents the 2016 Homelessness Action Week Proclamation to youth involved in HAW projects at Frog Hollow NH and South Vancouver NH in recognition of  youth taking action to address homelessness in Vancouver.



Harvest Festival Tastes of South Van

The annual South Vancouver Harvest Festival was a big success last week!  The event offered a number of youth-organised games, photo booth, pumpkin give-aways, and delicious “tastes of South Vancouver.”

The SVNH Multicultural Women’s Cooking Group and the Planted Community Kitchen made hearty soups, which were the perfect meal on a chilly day.  The soups were complemented by fresh bread served with a creamy SVNH homemade garlic hummus. Apple pressing was a big hit, and the fresh, hot cider deserves extra apple-ause!

Excellent job to all the community members  who entered the dessert competition – there was an amazing assortment of tasty treats for Festival-goers to sample.  The dessert that won the competition is pictured below: mini pumpkin cheesecakes topped with whipped cream and candied pecan. They tasted as amazing as they look!

Big thanks again to all the volunteers who served foods, pressed apples, ran games and booths, and made the event a lot of fun!



Special thanks to Terra Breads, Donald’s Market, Nesters Market and Real Canadian Superstore for their generous donations.


South Vancouver Harvest Festival 2016 was hosted by South Vancouver Neighbourhood House and Fresh Roots Urban Farms with collaboration from Planted Network and Vancity.