POSTS BY VANCOUVER NEIGHBOURHOOD FOOD NETWORKS

  • CELEBRATING COMMUNITY FOOD ACTION WITH SOUTH VANCOUVER NEIGHBOURHOOD FOOD NETWORK

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Advocacy, Community Gardening and Urban Farming, Dignified Food Access, Food Justice, Mobile Markets, Neighbourhood Food Networks, Poverty Reduction, South Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Network // September 8, 2020

    This is the seventh in a series of blog posts featuring each of our Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks.


    Laura Gair (she, her, hers) has worked with South Vancouver Neighbourhood House for four years as the South Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Network Coordinator. Laura is a second generation Canadian visitor on these lands, with Scottish, German, English and Hungarian roots. She is a mother of one adorable toddler. Laura has lived in Vancouver since 2008, after moving from the farm belt in Southwestern Ontario where she learned from her grandmother to always have extra food ready for friends and visitors.

    South Vancouver Food Network (SVFN) is an active collaboration of community members and organizations working to enhance health and wellbeing in three neighbourhoods through the power of good food. They support and coordinate local food security initiatives and offer healthy, dignified, community-based food programs. The Network aims to create a more sustainable and just food system in the city. 

    An image of four people smiling and working together at a kitchen counter full of food

    SVFN covers the largest footprint in the city, with boundaries encompassing the three neighbourhoods of Sunset, Victoria-Fraserview and Killarney. These neighbourhoods make up one-fifth of the land in the City of Vancouver, and are home to 100,000 people. South Vancouver is the most racialized area of Vancouver, with 80% of people identified visible minorities and 68.6% of people speaking first languages other than English (compared to 46% in Vancouver overall).  

    Despite representing such a large area of Vancouver, these neighbourhoods are underserved and underrepresented when it comes to community services. With such a large geographic area, each neighbourhood is unique and the communities experience different challenges. The Network’s neighbourhoods have a “commuter culture,” where community members have had to travel to other neighbourhoods to access programs and resources. SVFN works to change that by building more food assets to create stronger community and personal resilience, while also developing stronger social connections in each neighbourhood. Since the opening of Marpole Neighbourhood House inn 2019, they now partner with organizations in the Marpole-Oakridge area.

    An outdoor image of a smiling adult teaching children to use a cider press

    South Vancouver Food Network is known for its gardening and urban farming programs and workshops, as well as community meals, food distribution, and cooking and nutrition workshops. 

    Many pre-existing programs were put on hold to COVID-19 and the need for physical distancing. In place of regular programs, they began focusing on emergency food distribution in early March. 

    Emergency Food Distribution

    South Vancouver Neighbourhood House established a temporary emergency food distribution program along with Marpole Neighbourhood House. This initiative replaced the Greater Vancouver Food Bank’s Food Hub model, which was cancelled around the onset of COVID-19. The emergency food distribution response met urgent needs for seniors and community members with compromised health who felt unsafe travelling beyond their neighbourhood to access other food supports.

    Some of the Network’s emergency food response efforts have included: 

    Safe Seniors, Strong Communities: Cooking frozen prepared meals for delivery to seniors who are isolating

    Cooking programs with seniors by phone, including guided cooking classes and recipe sharing through the South Vancouver Adult Day Program

    Grocery gift card distribution, and referring families for South Vancouver Neighbourhood House hamper deliveries and grocery gift cards through Vancouver School Board, BC Housing, South Vancouver Family Place (SVFP) and Fresh Roots Urban Farm

    Distributing bagged meals to go, in place of indoor community meals at Faith Fellowship Baptist Church, St. Augustine’s Church and Ross Temple. St. Augustine’s Church will reopen and resume Greater Vancouver Food Bank distribution in September.

    Growing Food Support

    SVNH, SVFN and partner organizations are continuing food support efforts through the following programs:

    “Hi Neighbour” food hamper delivery for families, along with South Vancouver Family Place (SVFP) and Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society (PICS)

    “Safe Seniors Strong Communities” Hub Agency, which includes grocery and medication delivery, friendly phone calls, and delivering frozen prepared meals for seniors ages 65+

    Virtual Community Kitchen in partnership with BC Housing

    The newcomer youth garden club grows produce on the Rooftop Community Garden

    Hosting Food for Families Mobile in the Killarney neighbourhood through CityReach Care Society

    Gardening Together Safely

    These garden and farm programs have been adapted for physical distancing and sanitizing:

    Farmers on 57th, South Vancouver Neighbourhood House & SVNH: Growing Eden Garden Program

    Sunset Community Garden and Fraserlands Community Garden

    Fresh Roots Urban Farm: Farming, youth programs and pop-up markets are all running with new protocols

    An image of people gathering under tents at an outdoor market

    Needs and Goals

    The Network is also working to find long term solutions to replace the emergency food response program. They are making plans to increase the availability of community gardens and garden programs, as well as community meals and community kitchen programs in South Vancouver.  

    At Marpole Neighbourhood House, they are completing construction of a new garden, in order to begin gardenng programs, and continuing to grow the community lunch events.

    The Growing Eden program is adding an online virtual gardening and cooking component to the project.

    Fresh Roots Urban farm is continuing the SOYL program, as well as markets with new safety protocols.

    Across the board, the South Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Network is working with community partners toward poverty reduction goals and advocating for the needs of our diverse community. A positive side effect from COVID-19 is that there is now attention being paid to the inequity in resource distribution across Vancouver.  It is time for our neighbourhoods and the people who live in them to be heard.

    Learn more, contribute, and celebrate community food action with South Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Network:

  • CELEBRATING COMMUNITY FOOD ACTION WITH STRATHCONA COMMUNITY CENTRE FOOD SECURITY PROGRAM

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Advocacy, Community Gardening and Urban Farming, Dignified Food Access, Food Justice, Indigenous Food Sovereignty, Neighbourhood Food Networks, News, Poverty Reduction, Strathcona Community Centre // September 3, 2020

    This is the sixth in a series of blog posts featuring each of our Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks.


    Khalid Jamal (he, him, his) has been the Food Network Coordinator for the Strathcona Community Centre Food Security Program for about a year. His own early memories of food inform his passion for feeding the neighbourhood.

    “My mum had a big wooden spoon that she would only use when making big meals. To me, that spoon represents love.”

    An image of a wooden spoon with a heart carved into the centre

    The Strathcona Community Centre has been known as a place where the community can meet, share thoughts, explore new and different avenues of recreation, socialize and become involved. Being located in the midst of a unique, warm, and friendly multi-cultural community, the centre attempts to fulfill the many different needs. The centre is a resource which can be drawn upon by all groups and persons for information, ideas and resources. 

    Before COVID-19, its doors were always open to all those wishing to use it. The closure of Strathcona Community Centre during the pandemic led the Network to step up and provide emergency food response. Their weekly backpack program has adapted and expanded to become the Strathcona Emergency Food Hub, where food hampers are distributed each week.

    An image of Strathcona Community Centre

    Before the pandemic, this neighbourhood food Network engaged community members in gardening and urban farming, including workshops for community education and seed-saving as a tool for resilience by making well-adapted varieties of plants available for future gardening seasons. Community meals and workshops for nutrition and cooking were also popular activities for this neighbourhood food network, which participates in food recovery and distribution.

    Khalid mentions that several of the residents living near the space they are distributing food from are really skilled gardeners. “As a group, they’re very diverse in language, culture, age, and physical ability, and they manage to have gardening as their meeting place,” Khalid says. “They connect to share garden tips, seedlings, and soil, intuitively supporting each other as neighbours. While food security, mental health and social isolation are challenges in Strathcona during the pandemic, this group seems to have found a way to cope.”

    An image of cardboard boxes filled with carrots, celery, lettuce and other fresh veggies

    Needs and Goals

    Khalid and his colleagues recognize community needs for social connection as being integral to food security work. Strathcona’s food programs  aim to meet these needs by offering food skills programs, especially for children and seniors, land-based learning, and cultural programming.

    The network’s future goals include more cultural programming, especially for Indigenous and newcomer communities, and stronger collaboration with neighbourhood partners.

    Learn more, contribute, and celebrate community food action with Strathcona Community Centre Food Security Program:

    An image of many cardboard boxes filled with fresh green veggies
  • CELEBRATING COMMUNITY FOOD ACTION WITH GORDON NEIGBHOURHOOD HOUSE

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Uncategorized // August 25, 2020

    This is the sixth in a series of blog posts featuring each of our Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks.


    Joey Sing Yiu Liu (she, her, hers) identifies as an immigrant settler born in Hong Kong, who has now lived on unceded Coast Salish homelands for 30 years. She has worked as the farmer and community programmer at Gordon Neighbourhood House for 3.5 years.

    Gordon Neighbourhood House envisions a dynamic, diverse neighbourhood where everyone is empowered to play a role in their community. Their mission is moving together to build connection and opportunity in their neighbourhood—for today and tomorrow. As a Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Network member organization, they provide dignified food access to West End residents and use food as a vehicle to bring people together.

    Joey is proud of Gordon House’s commitment to meet people where they’re at and create opportunities for the community to lead and share their creative ideas. She also appreciates how their team and organization are committed to social justice issues and take opportunities to learn and grow with the community. 

    “Gordon House is often described as people’s second home, and that also reflects our welcoming and safe environment,” says Joey. “I’m biased but I think we do really amazing food work!”

    Before March 2020, Gordon House grew fresh veggies through their Urban Farm program, that went back to the House’s kitchen and Community Lunch Program. Their approach to dignified food distribution included the West End Community Food Hub, food asset mapping, community lunches, food skills and gardening workshops , low-cost produce markets, and a Farmers Market coupon program. Twice a week, their resident Chef also taught Out of School Care kids how to make healthy snacks and practice proper knife skills. Food justice advocacy and advocating for Indigenous land sovereignty have also been central to the work of the Gordon House team.

    Farm-fresh Gordon Greens, grown in the West End neighbourhood.

    Gordon House started doing programs and outreach online once COVID-19 began, which included cooking and delivering healthy frozen prepared meals to over 40 seniors in the West End.. Along with United Way’s Local Love Food Hubs, they worked to redistribute needed supplies to community members and partners.

    Although folks couldn’t meet in person, Gordon House posted online cooking recipes and videos to help neighbours feel inspired and supported. In June, they adjusted and launched their urban farm program to focus on connection to land and nature-based learning, at a time when people were feeling increasingly isolated and looking for ways to spend time outside.

    Food asset mapping also became a priority, and the House offered a one-time emergency food distribution to 150 Food Hub members before neighbourhood Food Hubs were centralized by the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. The Famers Market coupon program remained in effect, and Gordon House distributed $60,000 worth of grocery gift cards to neighbours. Throughout these past months, they have remained dedicated to sharing and developing West End food resources.

    Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks

    As one of many Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks (VNFN), Joey describes VNFN as “a supportive network where we can work collaboratively and respectfully around ideas and solutions that help each respective network and the local food system across Vancouver.” 

    “We often talk about how this collective should focus on work that we can’t do as an individual network, and during COVID we saw this more than ever when network coordinators worked closely together around emergency food distribution and other initiatives,” says Joey. “I’ve really appreciated the support and collaboration during COVID when everything was so overwhelming, and also VNFN Coordinator Sarah Kim’s amazing (and magic!) leadership where she funnelled so many resources and contacts between people.”

    “Overall, I appreciate the work that we do around food justice and advocacy, especially when we use a holistic and intersectional approach, because this is how we will truly help change the food system,” says Joey. “It’s also really important to me that everyone who comes to the table is respectful and willing to learn and grow.”

    Neighbours gather at the Gordon Neighbourhood House GBQ in 2018

    What Neighbours are Saying

    When Gordon House distributed packages of Farmers Market coupons and grocery card vouchers to some members, people mentioned how they felt like they were opening a Christmas package. They shared a lot of nice comments about their appreciation, as well as pictures about the produce they bought and meals they made using the vouchers.

    One member in particular said: “This is the only light in my life right now and I sure appreciate it.”

    An image of brightly coloured garden veggies on a neighbour's dining room table
    A neighbour shared this photo of fresh fruit and veggies purchased with the vouchers Gordon Neighbourhood House distributed.

    Future Goals

    Gordon House’s future goals include deepening their process for uplifting community voices and action, and  helping to support community members to make things happen. They aim to provide more dignified emergency food access for the West End neighbourhood via stronger network and community partnerships—while relying less on the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. For Gordon House, deepening the organization’s actions and commitment to social justice issues is centred around decolonization, anti-racism and inclusivity, and these values will continue to inform the work they do.

    Learn more, contribute, and celebrate community food action with Gordon Neighbourhood House