$100 grocery budget not enough for Vancouver area politician

A local MLA in the local Greater Vancouver area, Jagrup Brar, has been blogging about surviving on the welfare allowance of $610 a month.  It’s a publicity stunt of course – this man is a well paid public employee who unlike many welfare recipients, has no mental health issues and a loving family to return home to at the end of his adventure.  While the blog is interesting for some of the personal stories that it told, I find I cannot read it for very long before becoming angry at the helpless and self-pitying tone that he constantly uses.


One of his main points is how it is “so hard” to get enough food with the $108 a month that he has left.  Well, that’s $8 more a month than Brian and I each get!  Jagrup remarks that with “so little” money, he has to buy based on price rather than quality, and how it was barely enough to feed a man of his age and size.  I call BS.  $100 is enough to feed Brian nutritiously AND buy him his chips and salsa that he loves so much – and he’s over 6ft tall and plays sports regularly!  Not only that, but Jagrup is also blogging from Surrey, which has an abundance of good ethnic markets where the prices for things like freshly butchered meats, farm fresh veggies and cheap grains like rice are very reasonable.  It makes me angry that he dramatizes the “difficulties” of that budget when he is not knowledgeable about food budgeting and does not offer any constructive ideas on how to make it work!


Perhaps he was expecting to eat like this?

But seriously – we eat healthy, good food on a budget of $100 per person – $200 a month for 2 people.  We have fruit with breakfast and lunch, veggies with lunch and dinner, and hearty homemade meals almost every day.  We have a good variety of meats, fish and non-animal based protein in our diet.  Stews, stir-fries, casseroles, and braised meats are all regular dinner options.  Breakfasts are healthy egg sandwiches, cereal, or warm soups.  I even have enough for a loaf or two of farmer’s market bread every month.  In no way are we limited by “price” rather than quality and by misrepresenting his food budget so negatively, Jagrup does low income earners everywhere a disservice.  Instead of focusing on what you CAN do – he expounds upon the negatives and the supposed hardships.


And if $100 a month truly wasn’t enough for him?  That’s what the food bank, soup kitchens and community groups are for.  The resources are there for those who would use them.


Now other bloggers seemed to have a harder time getting good food for $100 per person per month.  Indeed, many of their menus seem rather bland although I did find some inspirational, like-minded posts .  I am not sure if this is based on the groceries available in their area, lack of recipe inspiration or what.  Regardless, I’m going to stick with my conviction that you can eat well on $100 a month , at least from my experiences in the Greater Vancouver area.


We don’t do anyone any good by focusing on the negatives nor by using pity as a way to increase social services.  Welfare was not ever meant to be a long term solution.  We should be helping people get off welfare sooner by creating jobs and focusing on what positive, lasting changes we can make.  Perhaps teaching people to grocery shop and cook should be one of those changes!
Posted in: Food and Grocery, Philosophy

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