The non-profit society says in the last year it has served over 40,000 meals in-house, and its outreach program has fed 16,800 on the street.

Operations manager, Rory Sutherland says the group serves all members of the community, including the homeless, people living in single-room occupancy units, and seniors.

He says the fresh vegetables and whole foods that it serves are particularly needed for those living in the Downtown Eastside.

“Generally in the neighbourhood there’s lots of processed foods, the kind of foods that are high in fat, flavour enhancing chemicals, lots of sugar, so we have a niche here for people that really appreciate healthy food,” said Sutherland.

He says with the health conditions of some people in the community, many of their visitors appreciate the society’s meals that are high in fibre, and complemented with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.

downtown eastside neighbourhood house
The Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House serves up free meals to walk-ins Monday through Wednesday. (Cory Correia/CBC News)

“For a lot of seniors, and also for the homeless that cannot afford to buy fresh food themselves, then here is where they get their intake of the vegetables and some of the fruits, a real friendly place,” said Godfrey Tang, who volunteers at the neighbourhood house.

Sutherland says the society receives a variety of donations, but they’ve come to rely on the weekly donation they get from the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, which he says provides them with beans, lentils, fresh fruits and vegetables.

“The food bank is something that we can count on. We place our order, we know what we’re going to get,” he said.

This is one of 80 organizations in Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, and the North Shore that the food bank partners with, providing food to approximately 27,000 people.

downtown eastside neighbourhood house Godfrey Tang
Godfrey Tang volunteers at the neighbourhood house, translating for Chinese seniors. (Cory Correia/CBC News)

Sutherland says beyond the nutritious aspects of the food, it really works to bring the community together to connect with each other.

The group says they have a critical need for financial donations, as well as plant-based organic foods, large bags of whole grain brown rice, and quinoa.


The Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House Right to Food Network is a member of the Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks.