Denoument – Scope Change

Blog 5


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Farewell LFS 350! 

This will be our last blog post of the term. Even though we had our last class and presentation on Wednesday we’re not quite finished yet. As a group we continue to pull together to finish our final paper and reflect on what we’ve done in this course before diving into our exams. (Final stretch let’s go!)

Executive Summary:

Group 6 from UBC’s LFS 350 class worked in conjunction with a social planner from the City of Vancouver’s Social Policy Department in their mission to create a food system that is economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable by helping to improve publicly accessible kitchens in Vancouver.

This was done by compiling data that we and other groups obtained through phone and in-person interviews, and then creating general recommendations that can be implemented in the kitchens. The community kitchen groups of LFS 350 interviewed kitchen staff from many regions in Greater Vancouver such as Mt. Pleasant, Grandview, Fairview, Arbutus Ridge, Hastings-Sunrise, and Downtown. The questions that we used to obtain our data were designed to determine the productivity and condition of the kitchens. Some examples of the questions used in our surveys were: Who uses the kitchen and how often do they use it? What types of foods are prepared in the kitchen?

After compiling data from all the groups, we used the Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) method in order to create graphs and compare the kitchens to one another in different categories. The categories were determined based off of our inquiry questions such as: number of people that can be in the kitchen at one time, operation hours, and maintenance needed for the kitchen per week.

Based on this, we determined what adjustments can be made for the kitchens as a whole. Our results show that most of the community kitchens are maintained in good condition, can accommodate ten people or fewer, and are used for community purposes such as communal cooking. However, some kitchens did not have food-related programs for their community members and that many of the kitchens lack the funding to improve their equipment and kitchen space. We also found that community kitchens are currently seeking funding in order to operate more effectively as valuable community hubs. Therefore, we recommend further studies to be done on these kitchens in the future due our survey’s small sample size and the need to extend our baseline data set so that future groups use the data in a meaningful way.

Reflecting on a moment of significance that has occurred in LFS 350 during our group project using Rolfe et al. (2001) reflective model:

Moment of Significance:


Throughout the community-based experiential project, we were continually faced with challenges while searching for community kitchen interviews. We failed to make contact with a number of kitchens in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood, which we were initially assigned along with the two other extended neighborhoods (i.e. Arbutus Ridge and Fairview). As we became mediators between the city planners from the City of Vancouver and the community members, we tried to realize our goal of collecting survey data from six community kitchens. The objective of our project was to analyze the data and recommend future actions to enhance community kitchens. Consequently, the rejection brought down group morale panic ensued. We were not able to collect data from even one kitchen to evaluate the state of community kitchens in the City of Vancouver.

In light of this, instead of repeating points we had from the previous blog, we decided to focus on the significance of accessing data from community kitchens in our last assigned neighborhood, Hasting Sunrise. As we were working towards our goal, we were met with some success as we managed to set up three interviews in total with the community kitchens. This was the high point in our project because we actually developed different approaches in contacting kitchens, aside from making an appointment which was what our social planner had initially suggested. For instance, phone interviews worked very well when we were tackling a community site that was not available for on-site visit. Moreover, conducting a drop-in to the community site did actually show our sincerity in conducting the research. As a result, our group actually became more engaged in the project after we started success with collecting some data because we knew that having innovative ways to contact community kitchens could be a turning point in the bad situation we were facing.  We were thankful for the help from our TA and community partners as they gave us practical suggestions during our times of frustration, including mental support that actually lower the tension within our group. Furthermore, we were glad to provide some feedback we received from the community members to the project designer, such as reasons why some places rejected our visit including having it done too frequently.

For our whole team, we thought that both ourselves and the teaching team could grow from this project, in terms of identifying the flaws in this project that could be corrected in the future.  We felt mutual happiness between us and the teaching team when we started to collect some useful data, as we all saw the significance of the project was not just obtaining information for improvement of Vancouver’s community centre usage but also the process of working towards the goal. Overall, it was a good experience for our group as it gave us a chance to practice and develop our professional speaking skills through the phone by contacting different community units. In addition to this, we used our team spirit to get through the pit of the project, which proved to be an essential component for a good quality team as we came together to work in unity through good situations or bad. The only limitation with these new approaches discovered in the project was that we could not take photos in the kitchens for our own record because it required further consent from the manager of the community site.  

So what?

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Throughout the course, we learned that things do not always go according to plan. And when things do not go accordingly, it is key not to blame the project but to ask ourselves what we could do and how to find a better way to carry out the plan. Dan Barber’s story of Foie Gras (2011) and creating a new version of cuisine (harvesting ducks/geese in a natural and humane way) for maintaining the Foie gras production gave us the courage and the insight to come up with our own methods from our original means in order to reach out to the community practitioners. Instead of using the script provided in class we decided first to use the drop-in system, second, face to face communication and third, to change the order of the script’s phrases with different wording. For example, we first introduced ourselves as UBC students and gave them the reason why we were here to made it sound less formal. We simply told them we were interested in learning about how the kitchen is used and made sure to tell them that the information is confidential. When they were willing to give us their time for the interview, we explained further on why we are doing this project. Seeing as our procedure went smoothly, we thought that making it less formal made it easier and helped them feel more comfortable when answering survey questions. Also, we thought that using the face to face/on-site arrangement would give us a better chance at securing an interview. Due to having such a small sample size, it is difficult to conclude that our methods gave the better results of finding kitchens, but it is important to see and understand that there were positive outcomes overall by changing the scope of project design in collecting survey.

To achieve scope change and deal with adversity we needed to draw from other sources. In this case, we borrowed some knowledge from the field of psychology. We used the psychological principles of similarity and proxemics to an effect without even realizing it! Similarity was key when we altered the tone and content of the script, as it allowed us to connect with the managers of the community kitchens on a more personal level. We presented ourselves as students eager to learn more about the community assets in our own city, rather than auditors from The Scary City of Vancouver coming to expose their flaws, the very essence of asset-based community development. Proxemics, which refers to the physical proximity between two communicators, was a major factor in getting interviews since it seemed to be easier to connect with community kitchens if we were physically present. It’s difficult to disregard someone who makes the effort to be there, a strategy we used to show our willingness to engage with the kitchens. By using a psychological lens to appraise our experiences, we now understand that the way we approach kitchens matters too. It may not be enough to simply reiterate a script that does not fully engage community partners.

In hindsight we could have opted for more communication with Sarah, our community partner, to give and receive feedback on our project. The LFS 350 teaching team was helpful when suggesting ways to proceed, but constant conversation with Sarah would have provided an extra perspective from the government, which is encouraged by the transdiciplinary approach. The transdiciplinary approach advocates for multiple levels of expertise when tackling a systems issue, giving rise to ideas and connections that would be otherwise lost. In this specific situation, collaborators from the City of Vancouver may have been able to share information on the communities we visited, helping to explain the rejections and consequently improve our methods. Despite the setbacks, we gained a new understanding of the community kitchens in our designated areas. For example, we can now ask kitchens why they may or may not want to engage in community food security initiatives. Do kitchens fear receiving profit will diminish their overarching mandate? Are academics approaching kitchens in a way that is off-putting or intimidating? Is there a way to integrate business and social models to supplement funding for the specific kitchens we visited? All these questions attempt to answer the broader issue of which method is the most feasible way to engage community kitchens in order to increase community assets.

Change is good! Can you spare some?

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Now what?

Changing our methods of data collection was an important step for our group. In doing so we were able to move forward in our project when we hit roadblocks. Perhaps in the future when working on projects as a group we should prepare more solid back up plans in case our original plan did not succeed. We didn’t go into this expecting everything to go 100% smoothly but overall we didn’t expect to have to change our approach so drastically. Reaching out to the teaching team and our community partner was important because we were able to extend our search area after exhausting the available kitchens in our original Mount Pleasant neighbourhood, and then later change our method of data collection by using phone interviews and dropping in to kitchens and ultimately did end up getting responses and data to contribute to the project. Framing our approach to something more casual was another important change, it allowed the people we were talking to to be more relaxed

Going on into other school assignments and the professional workplace we can carry the lessons we learned through our challenges in this course and be better prepared to face adversity and more ready to make changes. Not being stuck in how we think things should go is an important mindset for success. As a group we were all able to adjust to these changes quickly because all of the members were wanting to get some actual responses and interact with the community first hand, this was important for these changes to be successful. Altering plans isn’t always easy, in doing so there was the potential consequence of causing disagreements or tension within the group. Changing plans without talking to the teaching team or our community partner could have had negative consequences as well, the changes may not have been suitable to what Sarah or the City of Vancouver were wanting and the new plans may not have be ethically suitable and they could have negatively altered our timeline or have been too time intensive (causing us to run out of time before having to put together our final paper).

Some final words:

This project didn’t go exactly as we expected, but through our struggles we learned how to change plans according to speedbumps presented in our way and how to bounce back when we’ve felt defeated. Based on our individual skill-sets and unique points of view, we were able to come together to allocate work efficiently and work cohesively as a team even when we were struggling.

We’d like to thank the teaching team for their guidance and input, as well as Sarah Carten and the City of Vancouver for providing the framework for us to investigate community assets present in community kitchen programs. It was difficult knowing what to expect from this course because of the unorthodox nature of CBEL work, but we learned an exponential amount from doing our project and listening to other groups report their experiences, which varied so incredibly from ours.


Ain’t no mountain high enough


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In line with the theme of scope change and our Moments of Significant Change workshop, our objectives and achievements this week reflect our stages of struggle and how we chose to adapt and jump some hurdles.

Weekly Objectives

  • Contact more kitchens

We plan on contacting more kitchens to add to our repertoire. Except now we are planning to ask for an interview in a way that might not seem as intimidating (yikes!) to the other person.

  • Create Kitchens Contact List

We want to begin compiling our data for both successful (yay!) and unsuccessful (boo!) kitchen interviews. To do this, we have started a spreadsheet in order to enter data, which includes the kitchen’s name, location, and the reason for refusal.

Weekly Achievements

  • Internal Successes

After our Significant Changes workshop on Wednesday, where we reflected on group and individual changes, we felt motivated and reinvigorated in the face of rejection from multiple kitchens to let us survey their facilities. It was important for us to map out our successes and failures on a timeline, doing so put each event and our project so far in perspective.

  • External Successes

We have managed to get successful data on two kitchens and may have more to come. This is a great start after having so many failures, but the kitchens are from regions outside the main one, Mount Pleasant, that our group was assigned.

Moment of Significant Change workshop

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Graph 1: Group work on Moment of Significant Change

This graph depicts our nine weeks of progress for the LFS 350 community-based project. Throughout the nine weeks, we have had our ups and downs.

Our graph has an x-axis as “time” (from the left= start of the semester and right= progression of each class) and y-axis as “energy” (how we collectively felt about the projects).

The first two weeks (orange coloured line) display our excitement to share our passions as well as contribute our time and effort to the project when we first met as a team. Coming with the experience of the LFS 250 community-based project, we were very thrilled to have another new project in LFS 350.

In week 3, we had Sarah come to give us a speech on the social planner of the city of Vancouver. Her introduction on the community-based project caught our attention. We all agreed this project was something insightful and effective for creating a better (more sustainable) living environment for the society. Also, we were excited to learn about community kitchens in our area and how they are being used. So, taking her message on the project, we spent sufficient time and efforts in writing out the proposal and getting prepared for the presentation in week 4. This is shown by the smooth green line on the graph.

It was week 6, the smooth blue line, when we got our proposal marks along with feedback from our TA. Since we did not get the mark we were hoping for, we collectively agreed to contribute more and put more effort into the next step of our project. And with more effort put in, we were able to achieve better marks and had a better team play for upcoming assignments later in the course (i.e. we could work more closely together as a team for the blog 2 and blog 3).

In week 5-7, the pink line, we finally faced the downsides of the project. We faced challenges in attempts at making appointments for a visit with all of the community kitchens in Mount Pleasant. Many of the calls were unanswered or unreturned. One member from the kitchen staff at Tenth Church had to reject us because they were asked already for the interview by other LFS 350 students from the last summer. After experiencing these rejections, we came to understand in part, why there were so many kitchens not responding to us in Mount Pleasant.  We may have made them feel uncomfortable and confused for asking the same questions. To prevent this incident from happening again in the future, we think that it is necessary for students to have the previously collected data. This will help the future students to collect new data time-effectively. Since we eventually became desperate to make the visits since we could not follow up our planned timeline (i.e. proposal) and, thus, we decided to contact Sarah, which allowed us to expand our designated area with three more neighbourhoods (i.e. Fairview, Hasting-Sunrise and Arbutus).

And finally it comes to the week 8, which is indicated by the rising purple line when we got a phone interview with a kitchen that is currently under renovation.  We were very thankful that we could find at least one church that agreed to participate and let us survey their kitchen. Comparing to Mount Pleasant, we could find more community kitchens around the neighbourhoods we’ve received for our designated areas. And It possibly there is more financially disadvantaged people in those three other regions we later obtained from Sarah.

During our lecture in week 9, we had an opportunity to hear what our TAs had gone through with their past experiences in their own personal projects. As one of our TAs said, “Don’t run from the challenges, but run with them,” this phrase helped us reflect back to how passionate we were about this project during our first week. It also enabled us to stand back up and agree that we should not be afraid of challenges but be thankful that we can overcome them. Their stories cheered us up as it helped us realized that it was not just our group facing the difficulties this project presents.

Lastly, as our graph gradually shows the tremendous rise at the end, our final goal is to achieve a “bright outcome” in this course. From our kitchen project, we all hope to gain, and be able to absorb new knowledge, as well as experience as much as we can about the community-based project. We believe that LFS 350 allowing us to participate in this project will prepare us to deal with further challenges that we may encounter later in our future.  

Strategies for successful project completion:

We continue our search for more kitchens in the additional areas. We also want to continue our feeling of invigoration after our meeting last week, and not give up in the final stretch. Hoping to add onto our current small sample size, our group will continue to contact community kitchens in our expanded neighborhoods. If we are still struggling, we do have the option of going to these spaces and asking in person, as opposed to making phone calls. This option is a chance we would have to take, even though it would be more time consuming, especially during a busy part of the semester for all of us, and the fact that it is harder to face rejection in person after taking the time to make the visit personally. But it is an option that may prove to be more fruitful.

As a group, we have been continually updating our successes and failures to one another through google docs and group Facebook chat. This has worked well in coordinating tasks, as well as being able to work on our assignments as a team remotely. Coming together again in person is an important strategy because, as much as technology helps us, it is often more effective to have a face to face meeting, the last one proved to be helpful as our spirits were a bit down. Seeing as next week is a holiday from class, we would have to find another time for a meeting. Before we complete our project with what information we’re able to gather, as well as completing a record of where and why we were unable to survey various kitchens, reflection on why we faced a good amount of rejection is important. Learning not only takes place through success but also through seeing how we can improve in the future (even the near future – until the end of the project). Also, reflection on a broader scale could be illuminating.

Things to think about include:

Was our original Mount Pleasant neighbourhood too affluent and is there less of a need seen there for community kitchen spaces and programs?

Was our method of approach not the best? We have attempted both calling by phone and e-mail to make contact with the kitchens, but possibly the last ditch showing up unannounced in person might do the trick.

What other factors may have hindered the search for kitchens?

What advice could we give groups in the future doing the same or similar projects?

How can we apply what we’ve learned from this course to other parts of our lives? Not just looking at the project itself but the readings, podcasts and TED talks which help to expand our views and give us a little break from our more narrow focus within Vancouver. What have we learned about ethical practices, food waste, asset based community development, listening to those who we need to help and other topics we’ve dealt with in LFS 350?

Blog 3 :)

As Group 6 is in the initial stages of contact with multiple community kitchens we thought we would share our achievements and objectives of the week:


Weekly Achievements

  1. We managed to expand our search into Arbutus Ridge and Fairview with Sarah’s help. (Yay!)  Our group has been looking at finding more kitchens in those areas since we could not find enough just in Mt. Pleasant. I guess you could say we haven’t had the most pleasant experience with finding kitchens in Mt. Pleasant.
  2. Since we’ve been warming up to each other we’ve been continuously getting better at communication and there’s more involvement from everyone in the group. This has been helpful in splitting up the work and having each others back in our blog.


Weekly Objectives

  1. As with last week, we are still planning on contacting more kitchens with the hopes that we will have enough that will respond to us and with to have human contact with us. This has been challenging but, as mentioned in our weekly achievements, we have more hope after adding other areas to our list of possible searches.
  2. Some of our group members have already planned on visiting a few kitchens that have graciously allowed us to visit and survey them so this week will be mainly focused around that. If things go right, we will have finished all our surveying by the end of next week.

“I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, ‘Where’s the self-help section?’ She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.”

― George Carlin

In this week’s podcast, we embarked on a journey to Extremadura, Spain to relive Eduardo Sousa’s immortal – ethical foie gras.

This segment of the podcast begins with the vivid depiction of foie gras, fatty goose liver. This French delicacy is obtained by forcibly tube feeding a goose for weeks until it is stuffed and its liver balloons to the size of a small football, a process termed gavage. Gavage is seen as cruel and inhumane, so when Dan Barber, a decorated chef, heard about an alternate way to produce foie gras naturally, he was in disbelief.

Dan travels with a journalist to Spain to meet Eduardo, the man behind the madness, who he finds “crooning” to the geese. In short, Eduardo’s methods are ingenious but painfully simple – he allows the geese to live on his farm believing that they are free. This is the most important point that Eduardo stresses time and time again, if the geese are free they will naturally gorge themselves in preparation for Winter and all Eduardo has to do is to surround them with the delicious food they require. Sounds like common sense, but why haven’t more producers used this method? Because it is extremely risky and not very profitable; Eduardo loses roughly 30% of his geese to predators and other externalities by not building fences or feeding them directly, God’s Tax.


What do foie gras and God’s Tax have to do with Food Systems class projects and The City of Vancouver?

Eduardo’s methods speak to both flexibility and autonomy, he may have developed the idea to pander to the mindless demand for ethical food but most likely it was because the liver tasted better and he didn’t need to cause undue harm to achieve that ideal. In the podcast, Dan and Eduardo have very different approaches to the same situation and the crucial change in scope allowed Dan to broaden his perspective and tackle a previously unsolvable problem.

Currently, we are having trouble reaching the kitchens in our neighborhood. It is not a matter of contact but of connection as most kitchens have been generally unreceptive to our script. It’s clear that something has to change, perhaps we could increase the areas of interest and try harder OR we may need to modify the script. Asset-based community development has the right idea when it comes to providing communities with what they need but identifying those needs can be tricky. It would be reasonable to assume that kitchens may not initially enjoy the idea of “UBC student[s] working on a Food Systems class project in collaboration with the City of Vancouver” coming in and transforming their asset into a community kitchen, a perceived loss of autonomy. Connecting may require a gentler touch and attention to subtleties, the pursuit of harmony over domestication.

Back in Eduardo’s farm, wild geese would “come to stay” which elicited an astute remark from Dan, that in America a hog would never happen upon a factory farm and make that same decision; instead of forcing the goose to eat, Eduardo figures out in what conditions the goose would desire to eat more. Scope change is necessary and continuous, therefore, in the following weeks we will approach this project under different conditions, keeping in mind Gooseman Or the Unexpected Virtue of Autonomy.

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Upcoming strategies and achievements

  1. We contacted around fifteen different community kitchens via phone calls and(or) emails during the last two weeks, most of them did not respond, some of the numbers that were listed were incorrect or not available. We are now planning to figure out on why the phone connections or emails failed (possibly some community kitchens are no longer existing or numbers are incorrectly informed)  and also we are going to brainstorm what we can do to fix the issue of not getting their response.
  2. Among these community kitchens, one of them answered and told us they will be giving us a call back. However, we have waited for the call for two days, and are planning to call the agency once more before week ends and if possible (hopefully) we will politely ask them for us to visit for an interview on kitchen’s facilities and how it is used etc.
  3. We will make sure that all group members are at the same step of this process (currently searching up more kitchens and giving them calls) and all are able to give quick responses by using Facebook groups/pages/messages. To update our individual work, we are successfully employing Google Doc as a place where we share our opinions and ideas to further the work.
  4. We are going to find more kitchens that will be more receptive to visits. We will also expand our search from just Mount Pleasant into Arbutus Ridge and Fairview. So far, we have not been able to set-up meetings with enough kitchens, so first we’re creating a list of additional kitchens in this area, and then we will proceed to contact them with the hope that we can make visits.
  5. If phone contact is not possible, we will (in pairs) plan to go visit a selection of community kitchens and determine whether we can ask the agency in question if they have a kitchen on location. If so, we will ask if they are willing to allow us to survey them on the usage of their kitchens facilities.
  6. We will attempt to make kitchen visits as soon as possible.  Once these visits are completed, we will come together as a group and share information found through the surveys. We will be prepared to compare different areas in our range to see if there are similar kitchens, organizational structures, classes, volunteer vs. paid worker ratios, etc. in the different neighbourhoods we are now looking at.
  7. We will accumulate information about the Arbutus Ridge and Fairview areas, including statistics about who lives in the neighbourhood, age demographics, and average income. In doing so we may be able to understand better our ultimate findings in how the kitchens are set up and currently used in the different areas, because these variables depend on the community’s needs.
  8. As a team, we will make sure that every member in our group stays optimistic and is engaged so that every individual makes their own contributions to this Mount Pleasant and Arbutus Ridge Community Kitchen Project.

Blog 2!



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As Group 6 prepares to enter the community in search of human contact via the elusive community kitchens, we thought we would share our current Objectives and  Achievements:


  1. Create a list of kitchens

We are aiming to put together a sizable list of about 15 kitchens to visit, you know, just in case we get really unlucky. 

  1. Contact kitchens

As frightening as it might seem, we will have to start calling up complete strangers. This will likely be a trying ordeal, fraught with rejection and a LOT of waiting, but hopefully it will be as painless as possible and we will be able to meet community members and start checking out kitchens.

  1. Visit some kitchens

As soon as we get the word we plan to go in pairs to each kitchen and scout out the area, talk to whomever manages the facility, the staff, and perhaps take some pictures with permission.

Since this is a group project we decided to assess both our internal and external successes.

Our internal successes are our victories within our group – we are communicating effectively, making sure everyone has an important role to play in assignments and allowing creative juices (yum) to flow without any personal judgement. We will continue to fine tune our individual skills and utilize them effectively in a cohesive effort; we want to work well together.

External success is progress with respect to the project, in this case, taking a more detailed approach to our objectives after paying close attention to the feedback we received for our proposal. We have also started to work through the process by calling community kitchens and getting replies.


From the podcasts in Session six, we learned a few things about how we can make the community based-project development to be a successful project.  In the story of fish bank by Jensi Sartin, we realized that many people have the idea of “If life doesn’t go well, we just have to accept it.”  However, as Jensi brought out the idea of fish bank and things started to get solved, it actually brought hope to not only a fisherman, but his whole family and the whole community.  Thus, it reflects that most of the community kitchens might not be well used while they are just accepting it because they don’t feel like they have no clue for changes.  One of the opportunities for us is to bring hope to community members who are involved in the project by suggesting what they actually have in their hands to make things better.  This is one of the points that we can tell them while contacting them on the phone in order to encourage them for letting us to visit and therefore invite them to tell us the difficulties they are facing.

Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, an advocate for food security in Zimbabwe and other African countries talks about her relation to food and how it needs to be reassessed. In her speech, Sibanda explains food security is not just “about the food you produce and access in markets and also utilization in developed countries.” but is more about food that is safe and nutritious to our health.  Then she shares her personal experience of gaining weight from living in London. Although food in London is secured in terms of quantity, the quality she had was poor (high in calories and low in nutrients) since she was eating fast food as her go to meal which caused her to gain weight. It is not just in London but also in western countries including Canada; there is the tremendous increase in fast food chains and junk foods that are causing the prevalence of obesity among the Canadian residents. Obesity has now become one of the top health concerns, but this can be modified by changing one’s diet. Elaine, one of our group members also experienced the similar situation of gaining 10 kilograms during her first three months of the stay in Canada. As Elaine is from Hong Kong, she did not have much of junk foods in her options back in her country whereas in Canada there is a greater variety of fast food. With her similar experience with that of Sibanda, Elaine also agrees with Sibanda that adopting the practice of “cultural saving” in the community kitchen will help improve to meet food security. In this way, the community kitchen does not exclude those with different cultural backgrounds and make sure the definition of food security is adequately met to all different ethnicities. Nutrition education and practices can help alleviate the concern, and this can be done at the community kitchens. The community kitchens can not only offer food availability/accessibility for the needs but can also provide nutritious, healthy foods for those who need diet modification. The aim of our community kitchen project based on ABCD approach is to observe the role the kitchens play in the community. For instance, how the community kitchen deals with people coming from different ethnicities and cultural backgrounds and how people are bringing their traditions and values with sharing their ‘real’/cultural foods among one another.  Since the food system is dynamically intertwined with cultures, societies, and ecosystems so forth, it is critical that we all understand and respect that every individual in the kitchen has different values and perspectives of food culture.

For the story of A Pragmatic Idealist by Sisonke Msimang, we learned that it is important to listen to the silence, not only people that actively express opinion because people who stop talking are people that is less confident to deal with their own problems.  Our teammates encountered how missing the voice of silence can make things got worse as one of her friends become left out in the society and finally commit suicide.  Although it is hard to ask people who don’t have courage in the community to speak up, it is also an opportunity for us to see things in different ways if we listen to them.  Our importance in this community based project is to “speak up” for assets that are being omitted as well as cherish the opinions that we got from those members.  As a result, we are hoping to effectively benefit the food system.

On the first day we got matched as a group we came together and articulated our shared interests. Overall something we agreed on is that we were interested in health in some way or another, from a food safety perspective to a focus on health as related to nutrition. Most of our group has interest in working somewhere within the food system, which is one reason why we chose this project in our top three out of the group assignments. When dealing with people’s health, such as in the Pragmatic Idealist podcast, it is imperative that we treat those we are looking to help with respect and to make them feel like a person not just a statistic or a diagnosis. We need to carry lessons from this class both in the readings and podcasts and our in class discussions with us to the workplace. Even if we end up with careers outside of the food system these concepts are imperative when we are looking to help others. In any career we need to see the bigger picture when tackling problems and to go into this problem solving with an open mind.

Sisonke talks about how her viewpoint was changed after a visit with her friend Prudence to a doctor who treats HIV positive patients in Johannesburg. She realized about herself that her viewpoint, although she was looking through a meaningful lens, was lacking a focus on the truly human side of her friend’s situation. That was her moment of significance, and as a group ours, in part, is realising that being able to have a more encompassing idea of the people we are trying to help and their situations will only be beneficial to both them in our understanding of community development but to them from our results from this type of thinking. When we are conducting our interviews we need to be aware of what might not be said. We need to try to have a focus on what is beyond their words in their responses. To be able to see a more human side and by empathizing with those we are interviewing we hope to. This was a reminder of Ernesto Sirolli’s video for session three. The theme of his speech, that helping is more effectively done when we are able to listen and put our focus on what the community and its people actually want and why. Not to go into a project with rigid ideas of what would we think would improve but to tailor any response to the situation that is presented to us. Our kitchens may not have as similar struggles as we think they would. Realising this overarching theme is important because it ties into the idea of the ABCD approach to development, a good reminder not to revert back to a kneejerk reaction of trying to find what is wrong and lacking in a community.

Upcoming objectives and strategies

  1. After our visits are made we aim to come together as a group and reflect on what went well in our visits, see what the similarities and differences between the different spaces are. We hope to have all our visits completed by the end of next week, with some started this weekend. If we are unable to see enough kitchens next week then the following week we look to complete all our visits.
  1. Another group objective for us would be to familiarize ourselves with the survey questions in order to present ourselves in a professional manner as well as keeping an open mind when contacting and surveying the community kitchens. Reflect on any challenges that were presented to us, such as making contact, scheduling issues or visits where we couldn’t complete our survey.
  1. As a group we need to compile the information gathered from each paired visit and compare results. We hope to achieve this by sharing the data collected on a google doc for us all to reference and breaking it down into categories, such as – which the kitchen spaces are accessible, current use and purpose of the kitchen. In doing so we hope to find trends in the kitchens in our neighbourhood.
  1. We need to look ahead as to what changes we need to make, what didn’t go as planned and why? Does our overall plan have to change or are we able to make small adjustments to be successful? Have we followed ethical protocol, if not we need to remedy such situations. A strategy to help ensure ethical conduct is to review to TCPS guidelines along with how we’ve been conducting our study so we don’t overlook any departures from what is considered ethical.
  1. Although we should go in with realistic expectations and have a pragmatic approach such as Sisonke did. An important objective is to keep empathy in mind just as how Sisonke’s friend, Prudence, reminded her. It is easy to get caught up in collecting data at these community kitchens but because we do not know the status of these kitchens or people that we will be in contact with, we need to be aware of a power dynamic that the interviewee’s may feel. As we are students from a known university working with the city of Vancouver, we want to make sure they are as comfortable as possible.

First Blog Post from Group 6 in LFS 350

Left to right: Elaine, Eunsoo, Alfred, Elliott, Emerlin, Elise

Hi! We are group “6” from LFS 350, and we have “6 people” in our group! 😀  

For our members, we have: Elaine Cheng, Alfred Ke, Elise O’Driscoll, Eunsoo Suh, Emerline Law, and last but not least Elliott To.

Elaine Cheng, who is majoring in Food and Nutritional Sciences and she is interested in skincare and health because, at a molecular level, skin condition can be an indicator of the health. For instance, having acne can give hints that the person is having the difficulty with the digesting system or managing the stress level. She has an interest in how food intake affects a person’s skin, such as dehydration causing flakiness or reactions like hives from reactions to allergens in the food.

Alfred Ke is in Food and Environmental Sciences and is interested in microbiology and food sciences. In the molecular level, he has an interest in the role of microorganisms in food and also learning about the application of microorganisms in food production.

Elise O’Driscoll, who is majoring in Food Sciences. She is interested in cooking, recipe development and nutritional health. She also loves preparing and cooking nutritious foods and to share them with her friends and family. In this way she sees how food can bring people together to connect, which can apply to a broader community.

Eunsoo Suh, who is majoring in Food Nutrition and Health Sciences and she is interested in Functional foods/nutraceuticals and how they exert their beneficial effects in our bodies under absorption at a molecular level. Understanding that obesity has become one of the major health problems worldwide especially in North America, she is interested in studying how different types of functional food products/supplements can serve as potential treatments for obesity and diet management.

Emerlin Law is majoring in Food, Nutrition and Health and is interested in diet development adapted for different body types. She is interested in creating a diet plans adjusted to every individual’s needs to promote the optimal health and prevent

Elliott To is majoring in Food, Nutrition and Health and he is fascinated by the effect of nutrition on cognitive and physiological functioning. This includes studying how food is used as fuel for the body, optimizing macronutrient and micronutrient intake to improve people’s physical capabilities.

Students goals: Finding out that everyone in our group is coming from the similar nutrition-related educational background, we were very excited and were pleased to meet and work together as a team throughout this term. For LFS 350, our aims are first to create a healthy and “sustainable” teamwork environment and ultimately to finish off the term strongly. To make that happen, we all agreed that we will work together to build a trust by respecting one another, having integrity, being honest with any struggles we end up facing and taking responsibility for individual work. Our final goal is from having an effective team-work will positively impact our learning environment more engaging and more interesting to learn the subject. We all have our unique takes on how we engage in school work and problem solve so we hope that our differences will function as an asset when working on group assignments.

Group Interest and the reason for choosing the project: Since all of us in the group are interested in foods and nutrition effects on health in the population, we all agreed that the community kitchen project called “Accessing the availability and use of kitchens for community food programming in Vancouver” was the best option. We felt that this project will allow us to learn about what community food programmings are there and practiced and how those food programs are positively impacting the community members and more specifically on their health.

As we understand that functional community kitchens provide the space where participants to come and cook together, we wanted to learn more about how the community currently uses the kitchens. We also wanted to learn the similarities and differences from between disparate or more comparable neighborhoods and also what benefits and limitations there are for community members to have the kitchens in their neighborhoods.

As a result, our main objective is to study on how community kitchens can be utilized and improved in order to pursue a sustainable food system and contribute to food assets that can serve continuously in the city of Vancouver.

What we wish to gain in LFS 350: We wish to learn more about community kitchens within the LFS 350 course framework, how they work, and the challenges they face. It would be interesting to work with the City of Vancouver Social Policy Department’s Food Strategy Implementation Team to better understand the intricacies involved with local food systems. Furthermore, from experiencing contacting community agency and building connections with. In doing so we wish to gain a scope of understanding about the community kitchens. And more broadly we wish to experience and learn how it is like to be an active citizen within the food system, searching community kitchens and independently contacting the organization/agency making arrangements with them and so on.  

For our first impression of process to date, Ernesto Sirolli talked about how his projects in Africa were not successful. What he learned from this is that going into a community with a strict plan and neglecting to ask the local community what they need and why it is needed tends to lead to failure. If people are already doing something in a certain way, there could be significant reasons as to why. By engaging and communicating with the people we’re trying to help we are able to better understand their needs as well as what they have to offer. This follows the Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) strategy that we are trying to implement: What do we have to work with, what opportunities can be fulfilled through the utilization kitchens? We don’t want to look for what they are lacking, we are looking to avoid finding the negatives. It is often in people’s nature to go in and attempt to fix what is “broken”. The ABCD approach aims to get more people from the local community to be involved in the improvement and functioning of a community-based project and thus linking people’s opinions and regional knowledge to changes being made. We are hoping to approach this project by identifying existing assets that are ignored or unidentified by community members in community kitchen so we can actually work towards maximizing positive usage of community kitchens by the City of Vancouver.

In this project, our community partner is a social planner of the city of Vancouver, she provided us with details on how we can access community kitchens in the area. In the next few weeks, we plan on visiting community kitchens in Mt. Pleasant and get an insight of kitchen usage and accessibility in the city of Vancouver. We will do a survey for each visited kitchen to collect data for community kitchen usage in the city of Vancouver as well as taking pictures to help make observations, whenever possible and see what community members were omitting capacities in each site. From this analysis, we hope to provide useful comment for our community partner in making decision on city development.


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