Blog Post #5

Executive Summary:

This project is aiming to assess the conditions and usage of the community kitchens in two neighborhoods in Vancouver area, Grandview Woodland and Kensington Cedar Cottage. The objectives of the project are filling the knowledge gap between the City of Vancouver and the non-city owned community kitchens, and making recommendations based on the assets of the kitchens. Group members visited six different kitchens in these two neighborhoods to observe the kitchen environment and interview responsible personnels. According to the survey provided by our community partner, the questionnaire given to kitchen interviewees includes physical infrastructures, programs and how the kitchen is used, as well as the accessibility and benefit populations. We have both qualitative and quantitative research methods. The qualitative method including observations, surveys and interviews, and the quantitative data is collected through questions such as usage hours, managing time and number of people that can dine together. The results showed that physical infrastructures, such as kitchen equipment and facilities are well-maintained. The six kitchens we visited are mainly used for cooking class and group cooking events, which are beneficial for the participated seniors, families and children and new immigrants. On the whole, there are some improvements can be made based on the assets in the kitchens, including cultural diversity, willingness to put values into actions and efficient business plans to allocate resources. Hence, our recommendations are incorporating cultural aspects into food programming, providing resources needed for kitchen improvements and hiring professionals to ensure food knowledge accurately taught in programs, as well as creating a self-sustaining business to achieve financially independent in the long run.

A Moment of Significance:

Upon completion of our research, it was time to gather all our information into our final report, presentation, conclude our research questions and make our recommendations to our community partner. At the same time, we had a chance as a group to reflect on our experiences and the things that we took away from the project, both for the project and for our own personal development. Throughout the project, we all received a better understanding of Community-Based Experiential Learning (CBEL) and application of Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD). It was a very eye-opening experience to apply the knowledge we learned in class to our real-life experiences in the community/field. We also had a lot of fun, and enjoyed meeting different people in the community, instead of sitting in a lecture hall every week. Although the course overall was very challenging for us, we managed to pull through to the very end and was able to support each other and achieve our goal of finishing the project. This experience has taught us a lot about our own strengths and weaknesses, working within a group and going out of our comfort zones, as well as applying ABCD to real life situations. For every member of our group, these are all definitely experiences that have helped us grow as individuals and be able to apply to our future studies, work and life in the long run.




Blog post 4

This week, our first objective is to visit three scheduled kitchens and roughly organize as well as discuss the information we collected after visits in our weekly meeting. The second objective is to confirm two more kitchen visiting appointments, which will happen in the following week. Additionally, we will input all the information we collected so far into the online survey website and discuss about the possible methods for organizing and analyzing the data.

For the achievements, we made revisions of the aim and objectives of our proposal report and send it to TA for confirmation to get a more clear idea of the purpose of the entire project. As the same for last week, we visited three kitchens, which are City Reach Care Society (Broadway Church), Reach Community Health Center and Helping Spirit lodge Society respectively. After visits, our group also spent time on reflecting on each interview to find what are the common points and differences between these four kitchens including two from each of our assigned areas. Furthermore, we made contact with the other two community kitchens that have not confirmed on visiting yet. From the tutorial last week, we also got feedback on the project progress so far from our TA and instructor.  

group reflectionThe Moment of Significant Change workshop was very insightful in helping our group identify our significant moments both personally and as a group. It helped us reflect on our own attitudes and behaviors towards one another, and really helped us to bond together as a group as we shared our stories to one another. We reflected on our first impressions, our attitude towards the project, and how they changed as the project developed. For the most part, our group agreed on starting off neutral, and our motivation slowly deteriorating after receiving an initially poor mark on our proposal. However, as we started contacting kitchens and interviewing them, we all became more motivated and interested. We also got to know each other better and learned more about our strengths and weaknesses, and became better able to utilize everyone’s assets, allowing us to work together better when completing our assignments. As of today, we are all currently feeling very motivated and we hope to maintain that level of excitement throughout the rest of our project and finish off strong.

The ability to understand the aim and objectives of the project and always think of the aim through the entire project is critical for successful project completion. Furthermore, as the project progresses, communications within our group and with community kitchens become very important. Good communication within our group helps us know everyone’s strength and weakness, which makes the project management more efficient. Efficient communications with the staffs of the community kitchens make the visiting and interviews go through more smoothly. Also, it is very necessary to keep in touch with the community kitchens, which may help us  collect additional information later on and get back to them if there are any updates for our project. During the process of the project, our ability to make adjustment to any changes is an another important factor. Sometimes the community kitchen staffs cancelled the appointment before the last minutes, then we need to re-arrange for the visit or look for other community kitchens. During the project, we gained the experience of how to deal with these kind of changes and this is also very important to finish up the project, because the analysis and conclusion parts may have more unexpected results. After collecting data from all six community kitchens, using  proper analyzing methods would lead to the successful project completion as well, which can give us more clear pictures of what the community kitchens currently have and how they are doing, and to further connect to the food strategy of the city. Throughout the project, reflection of each visit and every component of the project is also an important aspect. Each of the group members would always reflect on what we have learned and how we can improve in the future.

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Objectives and achievements of this week:

The objectives of this week are to continue searching and contacting community kitchens,  complete reflection questions for the two community kitchens we have interviewed, send follow up/thank you emails to the two community kitchens we visited to keep in touch and organize the collected data into electronic document as well as the online survey.

Currently, we completed two community kitchen visits, which are Cedar Cottage Neighbourhood House and Grandview Calvalry Baptist Church. All members in our group finished the TCPS2 online tutorial and got prepared for the community kitchen interviews. Also, we had successful communication with Sarah regarding survey feedback and gained knowledge on the backgrounds, cultures and methods of operation of the kitchens. Overall, we gained more confidence on being an observer and interviewer during the community kitchen visits.

Significant Moments

Although we had planned out our meetings with our community partners very well, when we sent them confirmation emails, people started cancelling and changing times very last minute, as it was the week of and even the day before we were about to visit. Because of those changes, we had to reschedule everything the day before we were going to visit. It wasn’t really anyone’s fault, but it was quite hectic and frustrating when we kept having to change things.

Due to the sudden last minute changes, there was a lot of confusion within our group as to who was visiting where at what time, and it caused confusion and the need to reschedule for the other community kitchens as well. Because we had one kitchen cancel on us, we lost a valuable kitchen to assess and will now have to contact more kitchens for our project. However, this experience has taught us that not everything will go according to plan, and we must always be ready for changes that may be made.

To make up for the loss, we will now have to contact more kitchens. However, we also received many other contacts for potential community partners from the kitchens we interviewed today. This has taught us that although there are setbacks from one aspect, we can also gain things from a different aspect. It is unfortunate that we lost a contact so we cannot learn about their kitchen, but we have already received a wide variety of answers and will be sure to receive more from our future kitchens. In the future, we can also make sure we send out confirmation emails earlier so that there is more time for people to make their respective changes, and for us to make sure everything is in order for our visit.


Integrate with Podcast:

As mentioned in the Podcast “Poutry Slam 2011”, Dan Barber at New York State, tried to replicate Eduardo’s geese feeding experiment which was held in Spain; however, he encountered many problems during the process. The weather in New York State is colder than in Spain, so the vegetation used by Eduardo cannot grow causing the geese to starve. Barber imitated Eduardo and avoided using fences to allow the geese to have “wild” life; however, the predator problem results in huge sacrifice of the geese lives. We can see that simple copying and pasting will not work for different circumstances under different conditions. The specific factors for each case need to be considered before directly adapting any methods from other successful cases. Similarly, in our project, different community kitchens have different assets. We cannot implement the same strategy on all community kitchens assessments. They may have different backgrounds and functions like New York and Spain are suitable for planting different varieties of vegetables for geese feeding. After the two visits we had this week, we found that although these two kitchens are in the same area, they do  have very different assets, such as size, management, time shift. We cannot generalize and treat every kitchen by using the same adaption or analysis method. It is a good practice to customize the methods of the assessments for different community kitchens.

Moreover, Dan Barber came up with a new solution of using incubation rooms, but it was not appropriate since it opposes to the idea of raising the geese in the “wild” way and further creates more problems. The mother geese lost their instinct to lay and hatch the egg. This reflects that we cannot simply make assumptions for the kitchen assessment. In the beginning, it might be helpful to make some hypotheses to plan the processes, but any decisions need to be made based on the substantial facts we observed or recorded, not assumptions. For example, we assess the community kitchens by visiting, interviewing, and discussion instead of doing research online. During all these processes, we can start to get an idea that how to evaluate the assets in each community kitchen. All the assumptions would only be our preparation in the research stage. Furthermore, this project is a very useful opportunity for us to learn from different people and learning is long-term process, which is always involving in continuous failings and improvements. To achieve successful learning, we need to be adaptable, flexible and open-minded. We can learn from past successful cases, but not simply imitate the way they have done. The point is we can gain the skills by learning and more importantly by applying what we learned to the real-life cases.

Upcoming objectives and strategies:

For the upcoming objectives, we will find two more community kitchens based on our research and try to make appointments with the community staffs. Also, we will do research on the backgrounds of two upcoming community kitchens, which are both scheduled on Nov.4th. In term of the experience of first two community kitchens visits, we would build up strategies for addressing the unexpected changes or issues may happen during the process of data collection from different community kitchens. For the convenience of data analysis later, we would also need to organize the data collected and think of the appropriate methods of data analysis. In addition, we will continue to practise our communication and interview skills, and reflect the process or problems happened within group.

Blog post #2 project progress

 Weekly objectives and achievements: 

    This week, our first objective is to find 3 community kitchens that are not part of city-facilities and to contact all community kitchens and schedule appointments. Then, we will make a specific timeline for our community kitchen project. The second objective is to complete the online ethics course and send certificates to TA before our first visit. The third objective is to address the proposal report feedback as a group.  

   Now, we already have scheduled visiting time with 4 community kitchens; three of them are on October 21st (next Wednesday) and the other one is on November 4th.  Also, we have met our TA and discussed the objectives and aim of our project.  In addition, some group members have completed the online ethics course.


A moment that our group agreed to be quite significant over the past week was when we received our grade and feedback for our Project Proposal report. It came as a surprise as we had worked hard on it together and improved it with the feedback from the proposal presentation, but our mark was much lower than what we had expected. The main problem was that there were parts of the syllabus that we had misinterpreted and theories that we had not fully comprehended, hence the completed proposal reflected our knowledge gaps. A positive aspect of this, however, was that our group members responded to the problem together and did not blame any one person, and we recognized that it was something the group came up with together, which helped to improve our cohesiveness as a group.


Even though the the proposal report is only worth a small part of the overall grade, it was important that we did well and understood each component of the project clearly as it would serve as the anchor and compass for our entire Community Kitchen project, as well as our major communication tool with our community partner. While we were working on the report, we should have made sure to understand the project outline completely and consulted our professor and TA more regarding the aspects we did not understand. As a group, we now know that we need to understand the concept of “objectives” more clearly and reassess our objectives for the project as it was one of our weaker but most important aspects of our project. Furthermore, we need to go back to the readings on asset-based community development from the first few sessions to refresh and reaffirm our knowledge of how to focus on our participants’ assets, and not their problems. If necessary, we will find more material or talk to our TA to clarify any confusions we have. This will not only improve our knowledge of how to conduct community research projects, but also contribute to effective communication with our community partner and make sure that we are all on the same page.


Common themes of tensions and opportunities in community based project development from the podcasts:


As mentioned in the podcast “The fish bank”, it is very impressive that how they kept the sustainability of fish farming industry in Bali by only utilizing the assets they have. The speaker described a circumstance which is kind of similar to the community kitchens in our project. Although Bali having the most diverse fish biotic environment in the world, it has experienced a dramatic drop in their fish numbers due to overfishing. Hence, the speaker brought up the idea of “fish bank”,which is setting up a non-fishing area, so that small fishes can grow and reproduce in an adequate period of time. Similarly, for some of the community kitchens, although they have relatively complete facilities, those facilities are not being properly used or even been laid aside. This might be one of the challenges we may meet that how to use the community kitchens more properly. However, by conquering such challenge or tension, they can also be good opportunities to achieve expected outcomes. Our community kitchen project need to follow the principle of asset-based community development, which is also using the resources already in the kitchens to achieve better development. Therefore, referring to the positive effects of “fish bank” in Bali, the community kitchen would function more efficiently by adopting such method.


“Grandma Mahembe’s Farm” comes up with an idea that in the modern society, food and nutrition security plays a critical role comparing to in the past time which people usually planted and cooked their own food. Nowadays, some people would choose fast food over health. The fast food has relatively lower price and it’s usually requires less time to prepare. However, this convenience brought a bigger problem that increasing people cannot intake sufficient nutrients from their diets and become obese and sub-healthy. A lot of people begin to have health problems, such as heart diseases and diabetes due to the unhealthy diets. Some modern lifestyles lead to the unawareness of intaking vital nutrition from healthy food. Therefore, in this case community kitchen might play an important role in facilitating community people and participants’ awareness of eating both healthily and nutritionally. Community kitchen can be a place for people to prepare, share, and eat healthy food. By knowing how the community kitchen operates and what kind of people usually or potentially go to this community kitchen, staffs and volunteers can prepare different activities to promote this idea.


“A Pragmatic Idealist” emphasizes that the most efficient way to understand a person or a group of people is listening to their voice. The speaker works in UN and she has dealt with a lot of people who have AIDS or HIV. She doesn’t care about their diseases or sexuality, but only be willing to listen and talking to them. Also, the speaker’s friend, a HIV patient, as a brave and courageous woman against the unfair discrimination of HIV patients and lesbians, still showed up her fragility and fear when her doctor refused to touch her without gloves on. Hence, it appears to be more important to listen to people’s voice and even their behaviours when they are not talking. The people we may meet in the community kitchens are all from different cultures and backgrounds, which might be a challenge for us, since we do not know the stories behind them. Therefore, it will be more important that we listen to their opinions first and understand their stands of points before giving any suggestions and ideas.

Upcoming objectives and strategies: 

For our upcoming objectives, we will visit 2 to 3 community kitchens and complete the survey questions. We will organize and analyze our survey data, and hold group reflections and discussions based on the visits. We hope to gain further thorough understanding of our communities’ background and assets in order to draft more detailed proposal and plans in helping the community kitchens. To achieve the above objectives, we will familiarize ourselves with the survey questions and practice interview procedures before visiting the community kitchens.


Blog Post #1 – Meet our Team!

Hello World!

We are Group 23!


Group Introductions

Hi, my name is Emily and I am a student specializing in sustainable food systems and the rapid urbanization in the Asia-Pacific region in the Global Resource Systems program. I’m very interested in ways to alleviating global poverty, the human migration crisis, sustainability and all components that make up the food system.

Hey there! I am Jacqueline, a third year general Food, Nutrition and Health major. I love food in all different capacities, from growing it in my backyard, cooking with and for the community, promoting a sustainable food system, and the best part – eating cuisines from all different cultures. I also love promoting healthy living, including working out in the gym or going on hikes to enjoy beautiful B.C. with friends and family.

My name is Beverly. I am a third year student majoring in Food Marketing Analysis. I am highly interested in the business aspect of food such as food branding, consumer trends and data analysis. I believe these play a very important role in terms of society’s decision making on what food to consume and promoting healthy eating.

My name is Crystal. My major is general Food, Nutrition, and Health. I am interested in food nutrients and how they contribute or related to human health.

Hi! I am Yan, and major in nutritional science. I am interested in nutritional aspects of food, cuisines from different cultures and aspects to build up a healthy diet.

My name is Rain and I am a 4th year Food Science student. I’m very interested in Food safety, engineering, microbiology involving in different kinds of food analysis, which are used to ensure the food we consumed is safe, healthy, nutritious.


(from left to right: Emily, Jacqueline, Beverly, Yan, Crystal, Rain)

Group Values

Our group interests include alleviating poverty, building community connections, being involved in all aspects of the food system. From LFS 250, we learned much about growing our food together and now we are hoping to learn much more about what to do with that food in our local community. We all love to meet different kinds of people and get everyone involved in their communities as well. We hope to build new relationships and improve access to affordable, sustainable, nutritious, culturally diverse and delicious food for everyone in the community.

Our project objectives is to survey and evaluate community kitchens in an assigned geological neighbourhood, We hope  to hear the stories of people in that community and help them achieve their goals using their assets. We want to use their recommendations to improve the usage and quality of their community kitchen. We would like to gain experience applying our knowledge outside of the classroom and gainTh valuable communication, observation and teamwork skills. Working with the City of Vancouver and applying the Vancouver Food Strategy, we hope to utilize the data we collect to find out the actual needs of the community and plan appropriate improvements.

Progress to date

We just met with our Community Partner, Sarah, and she talked us through our project and things we may or may not expect to see. This is very related to the TED Talk video as we need to go in with an open mind and listen to what the members of the community have to say regarding improving their kitchens, rather than us bringing in our own ideas and pointing out their problems. Sarah emphasized on the need of listening and respecting their wishes and differences in culture that we may not understand. We need to understand that people come from all different backgrounds and experiences, so we must build up the relationship between us and the community kitchen before we can help them.