The Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks: Partnerships For Change

The Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks’ (VNFN) model of building food security and advancing food justice is unique in North America. It’s characterized by a highly collaborative, decentralized, and placebased approach. In contrast to large city-wide non-profit organizations, VNFNs are embedded in the neighbourhoods they serve – they are best positioned to build community relations, develop partnerships and design community food programs that are responsive to unique community food cultures.

Key to the success of the VNFNs are our 300+ partnerships. As grassroots food networks with limited resources (as opposed to large, centralized organizations with considerable fundraising capacity), the VNFNs rely on strong partnerships that allow us to  build community food security and create an impact through highly collaborative networks. 

VNFNs are often embedded in either a Neighbourhood House or a Community Centre where food networks partner and collaborate with a range of other social, education and recreational programs on-site. These programs  serve diverse populations and demographics including  children and families, youth, seniors, newcomers, and lower-income people.  This allows the Food Networks to provide food program participants with access to a range of additional social services and supports – we call this wrap-around service delivery. At Britannia Community Centre, for example – home to the Grandview Woodland Food Connection (GWFC) food network, there are elementary and secondary schools on site. GWFC is partnered with these schools to run a large school food garden program.

To showcase VNFN’s unique networked model, we reached out to Vancouver Community College Design students to help us create a visual representation of the span of our partnerships. Here’s the end result. Click here to download the graphic.

We would like to give a big thanks to VCC Design students: Keith Patena, Carter Spinks, Mina Foroughi and their instructor Dave Savard for their thoughtful illustration of our model. 

While we did not capture the full list of partners, or demonstrate full complexity of relationships between and amongst individual networks, the mycelium metaphor and graphic illustrates the interconnectedness of our network. The VNFNs are proud of this networked model that serves to build resilience in the face of emerging local to global crises as well as an effective approach to building a democratic, and just food movement in Vancouver.