Blog #4: Farewell

Thank you to everyone who has been following our posts since the beginning of this term. We would like to invite you to read our last moment of significance as we bid you farewell.

A moment of significance occurred when we met up with Aaron, the coordinator of Rainbow Soup Social in order to finally materialize our recipe book.

What

We were quite oblivious to the Food Hub programs at GNH and even more so to the Rainbow Soup Social group. Our meeting with Aaron Purdie, the program manager for HIM (Healthy Initiative for Men) and the coordinator of Rainbow Soup Social opened our eyes to a whole new perspective. Through Aaron, we learned that the Rainbow Soup Social consist largely of queer and gay men who wishes to use food as an avenue to give back to the community. The Rainbow Soup Social directly connects HIM (Health initiatives for Men), a queer and gay men support group with GNH’s Friday Food Hub program. This group illustrates the perfect example of asset-based community development where citizens of the community contribute to the development of the community (Mathie and Cunningham, 2003). Not only do they provide healing through cooking for a group of marginalized people within our community, the Rainbow Soup Social also allows for these marginalized individuals to give back to our community during the Friday soup kitchen. Never in a million years would we have imagined the interconnected complexity that exists within Food Hub programs such as the Rainbow Soup Social at GNH.

So What

However, the largest issue we’ve witnessed, which led us to our moment of significance, was how a disconnect existed between the Friday soup kitchen patrons and the Rainbow Soup Social group. While volunteering for GNH, we have been asked countless times by patrons regarding the people behind those delicious soups and the recipes for them. We weren’t too sure of the answer ourselves, which led us to asking Chantille, the Director of Community Initiatives, who then informed us about the various groups that help create the meals for GNH patrons. From these experiences, we have realized that it is so crucial on our part to bridge these various groups of people. As a result of our newfound awareness regarding the disconnect of knowledge between two important groups of people at GNH, we have began to materialize our recipe book with the goal of connecting these individuals in mind.

Now What

After meeting with the HIM support group and gathering some recipes and heartfelt stories from the members, we are very excited to be close to completing our recipe book! We also added a personal touch by sharing our own memorable meal creations and including a short story about it. By including personal stories from ourselves and members of the HIM support group, we hope to form a sense of connectedness with the patrons of GNH. We will be showcasing this recipe book during our final presentation tomorrow and hope to receive feedback from students, teachers, and others. Once the feedback has been taken into consideration, we will make necessary adjustments, and finally, we will find a suitable day to showcase our recipe book to Chantille as well as the patrons of GNH. We are very optimistic about the outcomes of this recipe book and hope to achieve our goal of bridging the gap between patrons and chefs, resulting in an effective and transparent transfer of food knowledge and interconnectedness.

We are so grateful to have been a part of this project with Gordon Neighbourhood House; the supportive staff members, cheerful optimistic patrons, and well-established programs present in their community have truly inspired us to utilize their assets and strengths to further the transfer of food literacy knowledge. We only hope that the next LFS 350 group will be able to push this goal into greater depth.

 

References

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.

Blog #3: The Peaks and Valleys of Our Community Project

Hello from Group 13!

Weekly Objectives and Achievements

Community work is rewarding but sometimes the reality of working with community members on busy schedules is that progress takes time! Since our last blog post, our project has hit a bit of a lull. We know the next steps we need to take, but coordinating our busy schedules as students with the busy schedules of our Gordon Neighborhood House community partners has proved to sometimes be quite difficult! By experiencing this, we are realizing some realities of working in communities. We are not always the priority of this busy neighborhood house, and that is just fine! This just means that we must take initiative to go the extra mile and be prepared with ideas, information and questions in order to have productive meetings when we do find the time to meet!

However, we anticipate things to pick up soon! We are set to meet with Aaron who heads the Rainbow Soup Social on Thursday, March 16th to create a recipe template as well as collect some of the recipes used for the Thursday Night Rainbow Social events. The Rainbow Soup Kitchen provides the soup that is served in the free cafe at the Food Hub on Fridays. We are quite excited about this meeting, as it means that we can finally get started creating our book! Over our time at GNH, we have noticed an interest in the inner workings of these soups. This will hopefully allow for a point of interest in our recipe book and handouts. Our objectives for the next couple weeks are to nail down the format that our book will take and begin to collect recipes and stories to include! We also hope to create a recipe template that the Gordon Neighborhood House can easily use to continue this project in the future. Lastly, we hope to gain a better understanding of the state of food literacy in Vancouver’s West End, what needs to be done to address any deficits in food literacy, and what is currently being done to address these needs.

We have had some small victories and learned some new skills while working on our CBEL project. One of these small victories was finally coming up with a project that everyone involved felt was needed and important! Though it took a long time to nail down our project and come up with the idea of creating a cookbook that can be continued by members of and visitors too GNH is something that everyone felt would be beneficial, not only to the Food Hub program but also to every food-related program that GNH facilitates. As a group, we have learned skills of collaboration amongst ourselves as well as with members of the community who are on an entirely different timeline. We have also learned skills of documenting our processes in creating this project. This has been both through our blog posts as well as keeping each other informed through google docs and emails when we do work on our project independent of each other. This documentation has proved to be very useful when we need to backtrack and take another look at a part of our project that might need improvement!

Moments of Significant Change Workshop Reflection

In this week’s tutorial, we had the opportunity to understand and reflect on our moments of significant change. We used graphs and felt-tipped pens in order to better grasp our individual emotional responses to moments of significance in our project over time, and to represent our newly skills acquired over time. This information was represented in two different graphs.

 Graph 1

The x-axis was used to chart the passing of time over the semester, and included specific events and tasks. The y-axis featured three faces that were meant to express our emotions.

This graph enabled each group member to communicate their emotions regarding specific tasks and events in the project using a visual tool as a segue into conversation. We were able to chart our emotions, compare them and discuss our reasoning. This allowed us to have open and honest conversations regarding our individual levels of enthusiasm and to graph our projected emotions in the future. Each group member is represented by a different color. This visual representation of our emotions ended up being quite beautiful. It revealed a colorful array of the peaks and valleys of our journey together. It shows that at a given time, one group member might be totally down in the dumps, while another group member can be so full of enthusiasm and excitement for the project that they are able to elevate others and keep the project afloat. This workshop allowed us to visualize the benefits of working collaboratively, showing our divergent strengths and weaknesses.

The ups and downs of our process reminded us of the realities of working in a community. This is a university project and in a way, is only practice for our careers in food work in the future, and it is important that we are aware of the potential road blocks and times of discouragement that we will face in the future. We also must keep in mind that if we are persistent, we will overcome these obstacles and have positive outcomes. This quote from Shulman reflects this: “In professional education, it is insufficient to learn for the sake of knowledge and understanding alone; one learns in order to engage in practice… But a true professional does not merely practice: he or she performs with a sense of personal and social responsibility” (Shulman, 2005). We are grateful for the opportunity to engage in this practicing of knowledge and social responsibility in a real-world setting and are grateful for what the ups and downs of the process are teaching us!

Graph 2

 

The second graph reveals two skills that we have acquired while working with Gordon Neighbourhood House (y-axis) and their development over time (x-axis). Each of the skills are color coded. Green represents our knowledge of Asset-based community development, and pink represents our knowledge of food literacy in the West end (Mathie & Cunningham, 2003). Both skills have gradually increased over time through the work with our community partners. During this project, we have experienced that there is only so much we can learn through articles and reports. Spending time volunteering at the Food Hub and meeting community members, employees, and volunteers has proven invaluable to our understanding of the assets that this program has in place. It turns out these assets are infinite and continuously generative! Being immersed in such a vibrant community with so many assets has made it difficult to find our place and purpose in the space. What could we possibly bring that they don’t already have? Additionally, our knowledge of food security in the West end has gradually increased through our meetings with Joey and Chantille. We have a better understanding of the statistics that we researched for our project, and what they look like on the ground. Through this, we are able to gain a brief look into the lived realities of those experiencing different levels of food insecurity.

The Graceful Dismount

As the semester winds to a close, we reflect on the aspects of our project that have remained constant throughout our journey. The goal of our project from the start, as decided between our group members and our community partners at the Gordon Neighborhood House, has been to create something new and positive to complement existing GNH programs. We agreed with our community partners that this new project needed to be easy for the GNH staff to sustain so that it is able to continue having a positive impact in the future. Our decision to create a book that not only includes current recipes and stories but also has space to be added to in the future allows the book to continue to grow at the pace that it needs to. If we succeed, our project will outlive our presence at the GNH in a positive way as the community takes it and makes it entirely their own. Our role is only to do the initial work that is required to create the book. After our semester is over, we hope the community can use our book and recipe templates as a platform on which to expand food literacy through sharing between community members of recipes, stories and other information. Once our book has been created and examples of what we envision to be good entries are included, we will release our book to the community to turn it into whatever they would like it to be.

Creating the book described above will require collecting input from the community and the GNH staff to ensure that it is appropriate and relevant for the community. We hope that through conversations with GNH staff and community members alike, we will be able to learn about what is needed to increase food literacy in Vancouver’s West End and how our book can take steps in the direction of addressing this need. We will discuss what we find in these realms in our final blog post and what we think could be done to continue forward on the path of addressing issues of food literacy. We hope that as we move toward wrapping up our project, our colourful felt-tipped pens will be graphing our emotions toward the smiley face and our skills gained toward the highest level.

Up next we have a poster presentation to give and a cookbook to make! Stay tuned to see how our book turns out and how it is received by the Gordon Neighborhood House community!

References

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. Retrieved through the UBC Library Website.

Shulman, S. L. (2005). Pedagogies. Liberal Education. 18-25. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ697350.pdf

Blog #2: Learning by doing

BLOG #2 

Hello and welcome back to our blog! Two months later and one member fewer (Bye, Dean), this blog post outlines our progress so far. We are now in the midst of our project, and this experience has elicited much frustration, sweat, laughter, and excitement. Diving head first into our community has truly shined light on intricate social complexity that governs our project, and we feel joyously but also painstakingly enlightened.

We have drafted our proposal for the project. In the proposal, we outline our objectives and what our next steps will be. Feel free to take a look by clicking on the link below

Link —–> Proposal

Articulate your Weekly Objectives and Achievements

An ongoing objective for our group was to get a sense of how Gordon Neighbourhood House functions on a regular basis, specifically on Fridays. Fridays are one of the busiest days for the Neighborhood House, because this is the one day of the week where the Food Bank sets up to provide food packages to those who are food insecure. Starting at 9am, the main floor of GNH becomes quite chaotic, with patrons anxiously waiting in line, excited to see what items they were about to receive, as well as a handful of joyful volunteers who work together to ensure a smooth-sailing experience. Just a staircase away from the chaos is the second floor, which hosts the Food Hub, Soup Kitchen, and Cooking Demonstrations. Our goal was to volunteer on a bi-weekly basis and immerse ourselves in these various programs to grasp a sense of how these programs work and how they support the patrons.

Joey, the resident Farmer and Head of the Food Hub, focuses on purchasing a variety of fruits and vegetables for patrons to try. For this particular week, the produce available include: yams, squash, beets pears, red lettuce, eggplants, rainbow swiss chard, and mushrooms.

After having volunteered 2-3 times, each of us have now achieved our goal of understanding how the various programs function and how they come together to benefit the patrons themselves. Shown above is the Food Hub stand, where produce is sold to patrons at a reduced cost to provide access to nutritious and affordable goods (sometimes local and organic!). The Food Hub is a great way for those with limited resources to still have dignified experiences with food-purchasing using their own source of income.

Chef Peter handing out samples of his vegetable hash, which includes the yams and squash sold at the Food Hub, potatoes which were part of the Food Bank packages, as well as rosemary from GNH’s balcony herb garden.

The Cooking Demonstration, as shown in the picture above, is hosted by Chef Peter. On Fridays, he takes on the challenge of incorporating the various foods from the Food Bank packages as well as the produce being sold at the Food Hub to create a delicious, hearty, and nutritious meal for patrons to enjoy. Not only do the Cooking Demonstrations provide recipe ideas for the patrons, but it is also a great way for the patrons to improve food literacy by socializing with Chef Peter to learn new cooking techniques.

The Soup Kitchen provides a dignified restaurant experience for the patrons. Right as they enter, they are greeted by servers who will offer them a variety of beverages, sandwiches, and soups. Using food as the medium, the Soup Kitchen creates a safe, welcoming environment for the patrons, who are able to socialize with one another to create positive food memories.

Having a good sense of these various programs, one of our other objectives was to assess GNH and see how we could utilize their strengths to further their mandate of providing welcoming and dignified access to food. Our main goal was not to create temporary food literacy workshops, but to develop an idea that would have a long-lasting effect and could be maintained by regular staff once our group leaves. With that in mind, we were able to brainstorm ideas with Chantille (Director of Community Initiatives) and narrow them down to the most relevant, effective, and applicable ones. This was a huge achievement in our minds because up until this point, we were quite uncertain about our direction and approval of our ideas. Our meeting with Chantille provided us the opportunity to share our perspectives of Gordon Neighbourhood House as outsiders looking in. Chantille was also able to provide an insider’s perspective and give feedback on our ideas. With that said, we were able to narrow down the main focus of our project, which is to develop a recipe book that would incorporate contributions from various members of the community, including the volunteers, the directors (Chef Peter, Joey the Farmer, etc.), as well as the patrons themselves. The recipe book will provide a platform for participants to share their fondest food memories and their to-die-for recipes for all to enjoy. This book will also be a great way to promote food literacy among the patrons that visit GNH. More details regarding our plan will be outlined in our upcoming objectives.

Reflecting on a moment of significance 

A moment of significance for all of us is the first time we volunteered at the Food Hub. In the paragraphs below, we reflect on this experience, what we took from it, and how it has changed the course of our project.

WHAT: Looking back at the beginning of our project, we did not fathom that our group came into the project with preconceived notions of what a food hub is during our first meeting at Gordon Neighbourhood House. Although we knew that the Food Hub program at Gordon Neighbourhood House differs from traditional food banks and charitable services by centering its mandate around empowerment and dignified access to food, it was hard to shake off our assumptions on the roles of a food bank and the demographic of patrons that participates in the program. In hindsight, this is clearly reflected in our initial suggestions for programs and activities that we wanted to implement in the Food Hub, that were to a large extent rooted in a “food banks as a service” mindset. However, the Gordon Neighbourhood House greatly exceeded our expectations during our first volunteering shift in the Food Hub and we soon came to realize that the Food Hub is more multifunctional than we could initially grasp. There are complex issues surrounding food insecurity, such as social stigma, which need to be taken into consideration when designing new programs or improving existing programs. Needless to say, it was eye-opening when we realized that our initial ideas did not take into account this complexity. This was undoubtedly a key moment in our progress as it forced us to confront our assumptions, which led us to abandon said assumptions and to embrace the multi-functionality and complexity of the Food Hub programs. Just as Tim Hardford mentioned in his TED-talk, we should learn to appreciate the uncertainty and messiness in problem situations because they have the potential to increase our learning, creativity and achievement (Hardford, 2016).

SO WHAT: The insight we gained from this experience matters because it allowed us to consciously shift our mindsets from working for the people to working with the people. It gave us a deeper understanding of the Food Hub. We realized that as “outsiders”, it is crucial to collaborate with the community and people who work in the Food Hub because they have the knowledge and expertise on social issues surrounding food insecurity that we could never fully learn in a classroom setting. Hence, the success of our project and our capability to reach a more profound understanding of community food security rest on our ability to internalize the inputs from the community and incorporate them into our way of seeing the issues at hand. This same idea was eloquently stated by Bang, Lee, and Medin (2014), which goes “It is commonly said that scientists should have a professional distance from what they study. But the metaphor of distance is misleading. Science, like a painting, necessarily has a perspective. To the extent that we can remove our biases and learn from multiple perspectives, we will understand our world better”. We found that the aforementioned quote truly underlines the insight that we got from this experience thus far. It is crucial to acknowledge that there are multiple, equally valuable ways of looking at the same issue, and understanding an issue from multiple perspectives allow us to discover new dimensions of our issues at hand as well as to recognize the inherent biases and preconceived notions that could hold us back.

NOW WHAT: In light of this learning, we have changed our strategy to root our ideas in the strengths of the community as outlined by Asset-Based Community Development. For example, focusing on their stories, recipes, and insight, rather than focusing on our (inherently biased) ideas. This is because people of the community, rather than external experts, are the best at driving development due to their ability to recognize and mobilize existing assets (Mathie and Cunningham, 2003). Our new approach takes into account the sense of safety patrons should feel safe when utilizing the Food Hub. We were considering the idea of conducting a survey to understand the needs and the desires of the community, however we quickly moved away from this idea as we saw that it would tokenize food insecure patrons and reduce them to objects for research rather than subjects that deserve meaningful consideration. Henceforth, we moved away from surveys to personal qualitative assessments. This entails engaging the patrons in conservations to better understand their strengths and issues rather than approaching them for academic research purposes. Building relationships is a crucial principle of Asset-Based Community Development and we want to put emphasis on said approach (Mathie and Cunningham, 2003).

Upcoming Objectives

  Contact groups associated with the GNH food related programs such as the Veggie Soup-a-Stars and the Rainbow Soup Social.

•   Obtain recipes and personal stories from the groups mentioned above and from various members of the community in order to create a recipe archive and recipe exchange to further promote food literacy, intercultural dialogue, and community bonding.

•   Graphically design templates for the recipes and personal stories obtained (also for future use), organize the recipes along with their stories into a binder using the templates, and with our budget, we will also print some take-home recipe pamphlets for patrons

•   Pilot the recipe sharing idea during GNH Food Hub Assessment Day on March 10, 2017. We will also provide soup samples and free food samples in order to entice the patrons to chat with us and engage with GNH, as well as get a feel of how patrons are reacting to the recipe book and food stories idea.

Strategies for achievement

After our discussion with Chantille, we discovered that there are two main groups associated with GNH and they are responsible for creating the meals for Monday Pay-What-You-Can Lunches and Friday Soup Kitchen. These are, respectively, The Veggie Soup-a-Stars and the Rainbow Soup Social. Veggie Soup-a-Stars are a group of volunteers that come together at GNH every Sunday evening in order to socialize and cook delicious vegan food for the pay-what-you-can lunch hosted on Mondays. Rainbow Soup Social serves a similar function and comprises of a group of LGBTQ individuals and their allies that gather on Thursday evenings to make soups for the Friday Soup Kitchen. This gathering also acts as a support group to provide community, support, and a sense of belonging to the LGBTQ individuals that may not have come out to their loved ones yet.

Chantille has been so kind to connect us with these groups through e-mail. We plan to set up a meeting time with the two groups, one on the upcoming Thursday (Feb. 23, 2017) and one on Sunday (Feb. 26, 2017). During our time with them, we hope to chat casually and engage with them on a personal level. Furthermore, we hope to gain a better understanding of their stories, challenges, passions, and finally obtain some of their delicious recipes. On top of that, we hope to gather recipes and stories from the employees and volunteers at GNH, especially the individuals that have a good relationship with the patrons of GNH (Peter the Chef, Joey the Farmer and other long term volunteers) during our next volunteer day at the Food Hub.  It is our hopes that this would bring the patrons and the GNH employees/volunteer closer, fostering a sense of community in GNH amongst people of all walks of life. In the long run, we hope that the recipe book would entice patrons to share their own recipes and stories.

After obtaining a collection of recipes and personal stories, we plan to organize them into a binder. We will also spend some time to design an easy-to-understand and simple-to-fill-out template for the recipes that we have gathered and future recipes to come. To ensure that we maximize the opportunities for engagement and spreading food literacy, we have decided to utilize a part of our budget to print a few take home recipe pamphlets for patrons who are interested in bringing them home.To witness our ideas in action, we plan to pilot the recipe exchange during the GNH Assessment Day on March 10, 2017 by setting up a booth downstairs near the Food Bank area with our recipe binder and pamphlets on display. We will also have soup samples and free food samples from one of the more popular recipes to give out and entice visitors with. This way we can chat with them about our recipe archive, while building trust and ensuring that patrons still feel empowered and safe.

Signing off

For us personally, we feel that our project is finally taking off and we are beyond excited to see how our community partner and patrons of GNH will respond to our ideas. We are also thrilled that we get to work with other segments of our community partner, such as the the two volunteer groups that do the amazing task of preparing the meals for the Monday Pay-What-You-Can Lunch and Friday Food Hub. We aim to hear their inputs and their thoughts on our ideas. We believe that their expertise will greatly help us in enhancing our project with the community.

We will update you guys as soon as Assessment Day arrives, and we will let you know how the GNH patrons respond to our recipe book and recipe template idea. Stay tuned and check our blog website for the next post! Until then, take care and enjoy the spring weather!

Cheers,

Sophie, Annah, Jeffrey, Belinda, and Olivia

References:

Bang, M., Lee, C., & Medin, D. (2014). Point of View Affects How Science Is Done. Scientific American. From http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/point-of-view-affects-how-science-is-done/

Hardform, T. (2016). How messy problems can inspire creativity. Tel Talks. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/Jd_j_kw_jZQ

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.

Blog #1: About us

Vancouver is beautiful city blessed with a surreal, natural backdrop that casts a sense of prosperity over the city. The city has an immense cultural, creative, and economic wealth that sets it up for success. However, the beaming contrast between the “haves” and the “have-nots” continues to one of our most complex and intricate social issues, and nowhere is this contrast as vocal as in our food system. Food insecurity does not disappear overnight. It requires actors in our food system that actively challenge our food system framework and organizations that take up the task of combating food insecurity in our communities.

Hi everyone, we are group 13 from LFS 350 and welcome to our blog. Below is a picture of us right outside of the Gordon Neighbourhood House located on 1019 Broughton St, Vancouver, BC. From left to right we are: Olivia Tong, Belinda Yang, Sophie Campbell, Jeffrey Kwok, Annah MacKay and Dean Firgo.

Introductions

My name is Annah MacKay and I am a settler of Irish and mixed European ancestry who grew up on the traditional and unceded territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and Səlil̓wətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. I am in my third year at UBC in the Global Resource Systems program with a focus on First Nations and Indigenous studies, conservation forestry and ethnobotany. I am interested in the ways that I, as a settler, can contribute to the decolonization of food and resource systems in this area of the world. On weekends, when not in school, I work as a mental health support worker in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver at Insite Safe Injection Site. For me, this work represents a meaningful connection to community in a place that I choose to call home. This experience has allowed me to be continuously reflective in my engagement with people from diverse backgrounds, while we navigate through a health care system that often does not serve them. I feel that the Food Hub model aligns well with my politics in that both Gordon Neighbourhood House and Insite are working to connect often marginalized people with the services they need n in a dignified, empowering way.

Hello! My name is Jeffrey Kwok and I am a third year student at UBC in the Applied Biology program. Born a third generation Vancouverite, I am of mixed Malaysian, Thai, and Chinese descent, and I grew up overseas for most of my life until returning to Vancouver to attend university three years ago where I am currently a Applied Animal Biology major. Although the focus of my studies is on the biological components of the food system, (e.g. animal welfare and sustainable farming), I have developed a keen interest in the social role of food and how food shapes our community over the last three years. I am particularly interested in the importance of food security in creating positive change throughout different sectors of society, and how food can function as a vector for social interactions, conversation, and bonding. My family lives in the less affluent parts of Vancouver (Kensington/East side and Hastings-Sunrise), and the striking contrast between immense wealth side by side with food insecure family and homelessness has really left a mark on how I perceive my city. I chose this project because I find that the work in Gordon Neighbourhood House aligns well with my interest of combating food insecurity and improving food literacy. Additionally, this project gives me the opportunity to delve into and explore how local organizations are using food as a tool of empowerment to connect different segments of our society, and it allows me to be proactive in pursuing my interests.

I am Sophie Campbell, a 3rd year Global Resource Systems major in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems at UBC. Within my major, my focus is in Sustainable Agriculture and Water Systems. I hold American citizenship and grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. I feel passionate about finding the intersections between sustainable agricultural systems and ensuring universal access to fresh, nutritious and culturally appropriate food. I feel that good food is a human right and that by working collaboratively with each other and respectfully with the land and ecosystems we are a part of, we can begin to find solutions to food issues. The Gordon Neighborhood House feels like a place that shares a lot of these passions. I chose this project because I want to further my experiences in food security-related projects and I want to learn how I can make a positive impact at the Gordon Neighborhood House as well as in the future with other organizations. My hope is that our group can organize a component of the Food Hub events that adds value and is based entirely off the wants and needs of those who utilize the GNH Food Hub. I hope to learn what goes into putting on a program like GNH’s Food Hub and how an event of this nature can be made into an inclusive and dignified event for those who participate.

My name is Olivia Tong and I am a third year Food Science student, with particular interest in food microbiology, food safety, and product development. In my spare time, I enjoy kickboxing, exploring beautiful B.C. through hiking, and finding new plant-based recipes to test in the kitchen. As a child, I grew up in the Hastings-Sunrise area, with my mother being the sole provider for my siblings and I. Although my family and I did not experience food insecurity first hand, this topic holds dear to my heart. I understand how troubling it can be for struggling families to find a balance between housing, food, education, and well being. I believe that all individuals should have the access to healthy, nutritious foods at low-cost or free-of-cost. GNH’s Food Hub program encompasses this idea by providing dignified access to food and resources for those who are in need of help. In the past, I have been able to take part in hosting food literacy workshops at South Vancouver Neighbourhood House and at Britannia Elementary School; both sets of workshops were focused on children’s education. I am excited to be able to experience working with an older demographic at Gordon Neighbourhood House, and brainstorm how we can help, as a group, to tackle and make permanent changes to issues regarding food insecurity and food literacy.

Hi! My name is Belinda Yang and I am a third year Food and Nutritional Science student. Some of my hobbies include cooking, drawing, knitting, crochet and crafting things. I am from China and I came here when I was seven years old. Being a first generation immigrant from a middle class Chinese family, I struggled a lot growing up here because my family lived under the poverty line for many years. Not only was there a language barrier for us, but there was also a cultural barrier. We had no sense of belonging and a lack of community to provide us with support for the longest time. I lived most of my childhood being food insecure despite a lack of understanding for it. Back then we did not realize the existence of places such as GNH and were not able to gain that level of support and help. I chose to work with the Food Hub program at GNH because I want to help others in any way possible, especially through food, to prevent as many people and families from experiencing that lack of support and guidance that my family went through. I hope our contributions can help connect more individuals on a more personal level by making sure that they feel a sense of community, support and food security.     

Hello! My name is Fritz Dean Firgo and I am currently a student in the Dual Degree Food, Nutrition and Health and Education major. So yes, I will be a teacher in the future! To be honest, that wasn’t exactly my original path. I had planned to go into Food Science since I liked the concept but then I realized that I loved teaching way more! So I thought it would be a cool thing to combine two disciplines of study into what I will be doing. Growing up in Indonesia as a kid from a middle class family, I did enjoy the privilege of always having food three meals a day. On the other hand, the extremely wide wealth inequality in Indonesia made me see how not everyone is able to enjoy that exact privilege. The Gordon Neighborhood House is definitely a great asset to the community in the sense that it not only serves as a regular community center, but a support network for people who may be lacking in one of life’s basic necessities. I hope that through this project we will be able to provide an engaging, fun workshop that enriches the way the community of the GNH utilize their food!

Group interests, goals and reasons for choosing this project

We are excited about the Food Hub at Gordon Neighbourhood House because we believe that everyone deserves access to healthy, culturally relevant food regardless of income or social positioning. We are interested in creative food distribution models that allow for community engaged spaces and more opportunities to connect with each other through food. We hope that as a team, we can help co-create this engagement in the upcoming months. As a group, we want to listen to community members to realize what would make a positive addition the the Food Hub program. As Ernesto Sirolli discussed in his TED talk (2012), the most positive changes are made by local actors, and the biggest outside impact can be made through listening and acting as an aid to help execute the ideas of the local people. For the next few weeks, we will be volunteering for the Food Hub program to better understand how this dignified food exchange operates. This volunteering opportunity will also allow us to pinpoint our demographic and interact with participants to see if there are any skills or knowledge they would like to gain.

Community organization 

This semester, we have the pleasure and we are beyond excited to work closely with the Gordon Neighbourhood House. This neighbourhood house is nestled in the heart of the West End, just a stone’s throw away from Robson Street, yet entrenched with a suburban feel. The neighbourhood house has a similar function to a community center, however its approach to members of the community sets it apart from community centers. Its relationship with its members is dynamic rather than directional, and the organization centers its mandate around developing communities and working to improve food access and food security in the community and beyond. Rather than merely providing services to the community, Gordon Neighbourhood House focuses on accessibly engaging members of the community on a continual basis through offering an array of free or inexpensive programs that targets “the needs and dreams of the community”,  in which people can partake. Many of these activities are food-related, and a free/inexpensive meals are often used as a way to incite attendance. In extension, food provides a vector for intercultural dialogue, community strengthening, and bonding between attendees; further highlighting the multifunctionality  of food. There is a recognition of Right to Food as a basic human right and the potential for food to engage and empower the community and its members.

First impressions & what we have learned

Before the first meeting, none of us had any particular idea of what a neighbourhood house is and we went to the first meeting with little expectations and a bag load of curiosity. We all had the idea that a neighbourhood house is similar to but also distinct from a community center, however we would not have been able to articulate the nuances that distinguish one from the other. At the first meeting and on the following Friday where two of us spent the morning volunteering at Gordon Neighbourhood House, we learned a lot about the place and our first impression is that the place houses a very diverse set of people that showcases almost the entire demographic of the West End, with some segments of the demographic represented to a much greater proportion than others. We also got the sense that GNH houses a wide variety of events that are tailored to specifically targeted key demographics that are of interest to the organization. On Fridays, particularly, food plays a huge role in GNH programs and serves as the common denominator of the people visiting GNH, here under the Food Bank and the Food Hub. For us, these first experiences highlight the important role of food as a biological necessity, underline the struggle when people do not have the economic, physical, and social means to assess adequate amount of appropriate foods, and depicts the multi-faceted nature of food that can be used as a mean to support the local community as well as initiate conversations and foster relationships.

Project objectives

Our group aims to plan, facilitate, and evaluate food-related programs and activity in Gordon Neighbourhood House. These activities are planned to take place on Fridays in conjunction with the weekly Friday Food Hubs. We wish to create programs that remain an integral part of GNH, helping them carry out their goals even after our departure.

Overall, we are all exciting to see where this project will lead us. Food is important and having a full stomach and three meals a day is analogous to building the foundation to a house on which the rest of the structure is built. GNH is doing such a fantastic job in supporting and engaging the community through food-related programs and initiatives, and we hope that our project can add another element to this existing framework from which patrons and the community can benefit.

References

TED. (2013, November 26). Ernesto Sirolli: Want to help someone? Shut up and listen! [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chXsLtHqfdM