“But we were just getting started…”
Well, well, well, never knew time could fly by so fast… it felt like the speed of light. I can’t believe that it is already time to say goodbye to this project.. BUT! Not before saying WHAT we had learned, SO WHAT is going to happen now, as well as, NOW WHAT is awaiting for us in the future.
Before going into that, here is a brief summary of what we have ventured through in the past 4 months:
We are a group of LFS 350 students who set foot on a journey to observe the Langar session in India Cultural Centre located in Richmond, BC. One of the many temples that welcome everybody with different backgrounds to visit and enjoy the food served. During this journey, we aimed to find out what are the goals and assets the temple have in mind and how we can aid in achieving their goals. Through numerous visits, we’ve concluded that the temple has achieved most of its goals, however there are still concerns that were mentioned by the temple, which are high consumption rate of sweets during Langar sessions as well as the lack of youth volunteers. Since the beginning of this new project as well as throughout, we’ve hoped to become the stepping stones for future LFS 350 groups to continue this project by providing changes in regards to the problems addressed by the temple. For more details about the project and visits, please refer to our previous posts: Blog #1, Blog #2, and Blog #3.
WHAT have we gone through this past term?
Our project objective was to collect data from the India Cultural Centre to learn how their food initiatives address their goals. We wanted to analyze how this food initiative affected the surrounding community and use that information to shape future LFS projects.
We visited the Gurdwara four times in total for data collection, which included interviews with the executive temple committee members and kitchen volunteers, as well as observations of the Langar preparation. After collecting data from our interviews with the different committees, our group learned a lot about how the temple’s provision of Langar helped support the Sikh ideologies of Sewa (Service), Kirat (work) and Equality. At the temple, Langar offers free food service to anyone of any religion, gender or race. We learned how the provision of Langar helped improve community food security in Richmond by eliminating social barriers around food and creating meaningful relationships between food and people, all while sharing a piece of Sikh culture.
However, along our way, we discovered that the temple committee’s main concern with the provision of Langar was the high consumption of sweets. Given the high rates of diabetes within the Sikh community, the committee asked us for our help in looking for a solution to this conundrum; how would it be possible to reduce the amount of sugar consumed without altering the Langar too much?
SO, WHAT are we going to do with the information collected?
We worked together as a team to help come up with a solution with the temple to work on other dessert alternatives. As a group, we realized that it is not an easy task to simply change what food is being served at the Langar in order to improve the population’s health status. This is because the food at the Langar represents their culture and it is crucial to maintain the framework of food sovereignty, where people have the right to consume culturally appropriate foods at all times. To improve on substituting more healthier ingredients in their sweets, or initiate ideas on implementing health workshops to raise awareness, more discussion is required with the temple committee in order for the process to occur.
NOW WHAT awaits for us in the future?
Despite our uncertainties at the beginning this project, our group eventually overcame obstacles and gained valuable hands-on experience working with the temple. Although the project had vague criteria, we do have a few suggestions to make to the temple community partners in regards to their concerns of high intake of sweets, such as exploring different dessert options, putting up written resources, or hold cooking and nutrition workshops. However, these suggestions may be executed by LFS 350 groups in upcoming years as we were limited by the short time of one semester. Additionally, having more quantitative data on the South Asian community in Richmond would benefit this project and brings on more precise solutions in a new light.
This is the first time that LFS 350 worked with the India Cultural Centre of Canada as community partners, and we are honoured to be the first group to initiate such a meaningful project. Since this project’s action plans to implement healthy lifestyle changes in the long term, our group has paved a path for future LFS 350 students to continue to work with our community partner. Recommendations for future collaborations include designing new and healthier menus for the Langar, whilst maintaining the food sovereignty framework by not sacrificing their cultural cooking practices, but also working with health authorities to provide workshops that will educate and promote healthy eating and physical activities to improve lifestyles.
Looking behind, this project has enabled us to extrapolate from the Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) strategy. We are able to leverage the community’s existing assets and use that to make a more powerful community (Mathie and Cunningham, 2003). The existence of Langar embodies food security by ensuring people of different backgrounds who enter the Gurdwara are fed and by facilitating partnerships with health authorities, it will enable the temple community to become more knowledgeable about healthy eating. It is also important to consider the principles of food sovereignty as the temple and its people have their own right to define their own food and culture (Patel, 2009).
This really do mark the end of our journey here in LFS350 Winter term 2017, and we are so glad to meet each others as group mates as well as the community partners to be able to present this wonderful blog posts. We really did grew close as a team in order to work together and help each other out.
Having these amazing teammates is a blessing and here is an awesome shoutout to each individual members:
- Nisha: THANK YOU for always taking the lead in everything as well as helping us communicate/translating with the community partners. Without you, we will definitely not be able to move forward as smoothly as we are now.
- Jamie: THANK YOU for always being so cheerful and bringing positive energy to the team. Without you, we will not have the motivation as well as the fun we have now as a team.
- Gina: THANK YOU for always giving out wonderful ideas that contribute greatly to our team. Without you, I don’t think our team will strive as much as we can now.
- Ruby: THANK YOU for always helping us in submitting our assignments online and reminding of all the important facts. Without you, I don’t think we will ever get our assignment uploaded on time.
- Leon: THANK YOU for always keeping us on track, and reminding us on the deadlines. Without you, we will still be lazing out and not getting things done on time without your reminders.
- Hwai Chuin (Kitty): THANK YOU for being the tech guru of our group, being able to navigate wordpress and piktochart whenever we were all stuck and for always being so positive and cheerful. Without you, we would not be able to share our work with our professors, peers, and community!
A special thanks to our teaching assistant, Colin, who helped guide us towards the correct path and pull us out of confusion when we were lost, as well as for all the feedback given. It has been a great journey when working with him.
Mathie, A. & Cunningham, G. (2003). From clients to citizens: Asset-based Community Development as a Strategy for Community-driven Development. Development in Practice, 13:5, 474-486, DOI: 10.1080/0961452032000125857
Patel, R. (2009). Food Sovereignty. The Journal of Peasant Studies, 36:3, 663-706, DOI: 10.1080/03066150903143079