The $60 poverty challenge

Submitted by: Nancy Hatch, Administrative Assistant Coordinator for the MNO Northwest Métis Council

Griffiths Family
Amber Griffiths and her children Anaiya (left) and Jackson (right) took part in
the Kenora Week of Action Poverty Challenge.

Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO) citizen Amber Griffiths and her children, Anaiya and Jackson, took part in Kenora’s annual poverty challenge from February 7-12, 2014.

For five days the family had to get by with just the basics in food, entertainment and transportation to raise public awareness about how poverty affects the daily lives of many people in their community.

The challenge, which kicked off the 7th Annual Week of Action Against Poverty, asked families to attempt to stay within a social assistance budget for five days. As a single parent family, the Griffiths were allotted $60 for the week. This is the same amount provided by the Ontario Works Basic Needs Benefit.

The budget included all food and drink, entertainment, some personal supplies and transportation costs. In addition to making every penny count, the family also contended with unforeseen circumstances in the form of a daily “Challenge Card”. These introduced another variable into their routine and required sacrifice or compromise for the families to stick to their budget. The challenges, which can be read about on the family’s blog, included no Wi-Fi, a school bake sale, lice and swimming lessons.

A difficult challenge for a family whose regular “basic needs” budget is double that of what was provided, the Griffiths managed to make it through with some change left over. The family gained a new found appreciation for all that they have. The kids were eager to have their electronics back and Amber enjoyed a Tim Horton’s coffee.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to do this challenge with my family,” wrote Amber in the family’s final blog post, “and hope that we have helped our community in some way understand what is out there.”

The Griffiths poverty challenge blog can be viewed here: http://www.makingkenorahome.ca/poverty_challenge_2014.htm

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