As 2019 comes to a close, the Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks continues to celebrate 25 years of delivering food programs for our neighbours.
In 1993, Strathcona Community Centre started their first breakfast program and from there, we have grown to a coalition of 15 Neighbourhood Food Networks across Vancouver to meet the needs of those who face barriers to food security. We have provided food literacy, food skills workshops, community lunches and dinners, community kitchens, gardening programs and have shared many meals and celebrations with our neighbours.
Thank you so much for joining us on our adventures these past years, and here’s to many more together!
This September marks the 10th annual Sustenance Festival, a food, art & culture celebration which brings community groups, artists, and advocates together who use food and art to cultivate dialogue, celebrate traditions, and push for social change.
The 2019 Sustenance Festival program features the Feasting for Change exhibit at Roundhouse Community Centre. Centring Indigenous perspectives and curated by Dawn Morrison of Wild Salmon Caravan, this art exhibit explores themes of regeneration in relation to wild salmon and holistic perspectives on food, culture, and healing.
Last week, the Sustenance Festival launch and Feasting For Change exhibit opening followed traditional Coast Salish protocol to honour the work of contributing artists, community groups, and matriarchs from Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh. Volunteers served food by Kurdish- and Ugandan-Canadian women as guests appreciated drumming led by Sto:lo elder Eddie Gardner and original music by local singer-songwriter Ava Caldwell.
The exhibit gallery also features work from the Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks. It highlights the VNFN’s 25-year history of community food initiatives and stories of change from people in our local communities.
In recent years, Sustenance Festival has worked hard to uplift issues of food justice which persist locally and impact a wide range of marginalized communities in Vancouver. Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks’ work brings an important neighbourhood-focus to local food issues.
This year, Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks events at Sustenance include:
Sustenance Festival runs from September through October. All programming is free or low-cost and led by non-profit community groups and community centres. See the full program of events at sustenancefestival.ca
Sustenance Festival is an annual initiative of the Arts, Culture & Engagement team at the Vancouver Parks Board which features food, art, and culture events such as family-friendly celebrations, workshops, and dialogues. This festival centers community food traditions alongside artists, activists, community groups, and social service organizations across the City of Vancouver.
“Kitchens and dining room tables aren’t just places to make food. They’re also safe and familiar places to gather, connect, organize, plan and to recuperate. Food not only changes the feeling in a space, it also shifts behaviour.”
Julia Turshen, author of “Feed the Resistance: Recipes + Ideas for Getting Involved”
The dining room table offers more than a space to eat a meal. While breaking bread, a shared meal is an opportunity to sit down and converse with others. It offers space to share stories, create new ideas, or even informally practice language. As a shared activity, eating food connects people to community.
Combining the need for healthy, balanced meals with the need for more social spaces in the city, Vancouver Food Networks offer affordable meals for the community. Community meals are meant to offer meals which are accessible, so the cost of an average community meal is between $3 to $7. These are often homestyle meals, usually prepared and cooked on-site during the week. With advance notice, dietary considerations may be taken into account by the kitchen, too.
If $3 to $7 is still a barrier, free and by-donation meals are available. Breakfasts (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday) and lunches (Wednesday) are offered for free at the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House. By-donation lunches (Monday, Wednesday) are available at Gordon Neighbourhood House in the West End.
These community meals usually consist of multiple courses, including dessert. Weekday meals are offered throughout the city at Britannia Community Centre, Collingwood Neighbourhood House, Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House, Hastings Community Centre (for seniors), South Van Neighbourhood House, Little Mountain Neighbourhood House, and Kits Neighbourhood House.
Find a Food Network which offers free or low cost meals in your neighbourhood. Learn when you are welcome to drop by to eat a hearty meal and meet your neighbours at the same time.
See up-to-date information on current community meals here.
If you haven’t yet heard, Sustenance Festival is well on its way in Vancouver. Sustenance Festival is a city-wide food, art, and culture festival supported by dozens of community partners, the City of Vancouver, and the Vancouver Parks Board.
This year, Sustenance Festival boasts over sixty events ranging from cooking workshops and food security talks to documentary screenings and art exhibits. Many of these events are free or low cost. Events take place at community centres, neighbourhood houses, and other spaces throughout the city.
This year, we are excited to see all of the events hosted by Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Network members. Check out the upcoming events happening at Sustenance Festival with the neighbourhood food networks. (more…)
Community seed libraries have sprung up around the world to create alternatives to the globalized farming industry. Locals in Vancouver have joined the global “Seed Sharing Movement” and established a number of seed libraries across the city. These seed libraries offer a variety of locally grown and climate-adapted seed specifically for our region. Additionally, they offer resources and tools to grow and save one’s own seed.
Seed art at Nexways wa lh7aynexw “Transformed Life” Britannia School Gardens
According to local seed saving project Borrow Save Share, we have lost between 75-90% of global crop diversity, including many heirloom and heritage crop varieties. As a result, our food crops are far less resilient in face of environmental disaster and extreme weather conditions.
While farmers and growers have saved and shared seeds for thousands of years, this practice has declined in recent years with the rise of a global food system. The global food system currently relies on the practice of monoculture farming, which encourages intensively growing a single crop on a large scale.
Village Vancouver and Grandview Woodlands Food Connection recently collaborated to start the Grandview Woodland Community Seed Library.
In Vancouver, we are lucky to have a number of dedicated individuals and community groups who offer free or low-cost #SeedySaturday events and provide educational resources.
Beyond preserving seed diversity, one of the goals is to “increase self-reliance and community resilience by focusing on community seed saving as opposed to large commercial seed suppliers,” says Grandview Woodland Community Seed Library.
Read on for a list of local seed libraries across Vancouver.