In this post, youth blogger Scott chats with David Kerruish. David was born in Australia, but found home in Vancouver in 2011. He is a Strategic Management Consultant at Vancity, with degrees from Queensland University of Technology. This year, David took part in the Welfare Food Challenge.
How did you get involved in the Welfare Food Challenge?
I am involved with Raise the Rates through the community foundation. I heard about it the last couple of years. I thought, “My work is to find out what’s going on in the community.” I am deeply curious about it.
Knowing the purpose and meaning behind the campaign, I thought I should develop my own understanding by being a part of the campaign.
What have you heard from others that have been a part of it?
It was quite an experience. Most people found it challenging. All the way from approaching shopping with $18 per week to the shopping itself. The ability to function when perpetually hungry and malnourished comes with a sobering realization.
This is the way thousands of people live every week. We can check out at any point in time or after a week.
We have these welfare rates. They haven’t gone up in 9 years. I have been in Canada for 6 years. In my entire time in Canada, there’s not been an increase in the rate. I find that a little bit sad.
What was your own experience in being able to or trying to function in taking part in this, being hungry all of the time?
I am a management consultant. I do reading and writing a lot. I use my brain a lot. I found on day 4 that I was agitated, even within 48 hours. It was affecting daily function.
As I went further along, I could facilitate and be present in a conversation. However, I wasn’t able to concentrate, especially reading material. I kept thinking about eating. It was a constant cycle of planning for eating. It was not a pleasant experience at all.
What were some of the precautions others and you took before taking part in this?
I tend to be health conscious. It is making sure there’s a balance of having enough carbohydrates, proteins, mixes of vitamin and minerals as best I could. If I have some foods, it is making sure there’s the right balance.
There is no precaution, it is hard to prepare. I realize how privileged I am. It is not easy.
What are some ways fellow citizens can help others through things such as food programs for nutritious meals to eat everyday?
Food banks. I’m not sure if there is a mandate. I believe the opportunity is there for everyone to think about where they put their own money. Are we supporting out local community with our choices in where we shop, where we spend our money throughout the day?
I think that’s more challenging because we live in a culture of instant gratification and immediate result. It may not have the immediate impact, but there’s the opportunity for everyone.
This is an annual event. How can people become involved?
There’s a lot of work you can do to support Raise the Rates by advocating for raising the minimum wage and the welfare rate. Getting involved in the campaign is one, I was conflicted in my participation, not only because I was the guy with a fast metabolism affected by it.
I engaged with somebody on Twitter, who is on welfare for 52 weeks of the year. She made a good point. Maybe, it shouldn’t be me or any of the other people that participated in the challenge. It should be people living in the state and without the opportunity to opt out.
That was my conflict. Supporting Raise the Rates is a great thing, I would encourage everyone to do that. If you think it is right for you, then advocate for the change, but also remain humble and realize thousands of people who have no choice but to complete the ‘Welfare Food Challenge’ every week.
Thank you for your time, David.
By Scott Douglas Jacobsen
* All views expressed in this interview belong to the interviewee and don’t necessarily reflect the views of CYH.