Hello and Welcome!
Have you ever wondered what a community kitchen really does? Did you ever stop to think they do more than just giving out free soup?
In the next few weeks, follow our blog as we take steps to learn in depth about the benefits community kitchens provide to their communities – aside from just making those large pots of soup! We are with UBC’s LFS 350 class, group one, consisting of five members: Nilab Salehi, Celine Koppenaal, Felicia Yuwono, Sheyda Mirth and Jeanne Currie. LFS 350 is the second part of the Land, Food, and Community series. The class looks at the food system within communities located in Vancouver and analyzes various aspects of what sustainability means in those systems. The class is experiential-learning based, which means each student will be part of a group working on a community project in Vancouver. In our particular project, we will be working with different community kitchens in both Shaughnessy and South Cambie areas in the city of Vancouver to discover their advantages to our communities. Not only will we be gaining knowledge for ourselves, but will also help the city of Vancouver by providing certain information about these unknown locations! We’re excited to get started on working within the community to see how we can make an impact and finding real world applications to the themes we have explored in class as LFS students!
Our goal for this project is to contribute to the City of Vancouver’s knowledge on community kitchens operating in the Shaughnessy and South Cambie neighbourhoods. This enables the city to allocate resources and better support the kitchens. In order to accomplish this goal, we have an objective of finding 6 community kitchens to survey and observe. By doing this we will be able to identify barriers or opportunities to improve the use of the kitchen facilities.
Though we did not originally choose this project and were initially discouraged, further discussion both in class and as a team during the past week has helped us gain larger insight and we are now starting to look forward to this project with fresh eyes as it evidently aligns with our group’s interests; we all share the passion of gaining new knowledge from our surroundings and then passing this on to the people around us (not to mention, also helping us gain a new experiences working with community stakeholders as this is a new field for all of us!)
All of us enjoy cooking and working with food, so getting to talk to larger kitchens and people who share that interest will help us better connect with the community partner. We are curious to see how these kitchens have an impact on the food security of the community as a whole and other ways they benefit our cities and the public. By collaborating with the community through our project we wish to gain a deeper understanding of both direct and indirect connections between food, the environment and community we live in. In this project, we will have the chance to hear stories of various members who have been active in their community kitchens. This is an great opportunity to hear new perspectives and learn more about community involvement and people in Vancouver.
Although we have tried many different strategies in the search for community kitchens, we are still having trouble locating kitchens in our selected area. We have looked on the BC211 website, community billboards, google, other search engines and even looked up several churches. Our main goal, for now, is to instead start off contacting the churches and schools in the neighbourhood to find out if they operate kitchens or know of any in the area.
Being this early in the project, we are curious to see how talking to community groups will play out; we aren’t sure how people will react to talking to us, their willingness to let in strangers looking for information and what information they may provide us with, since we haven’t actually talked with any potential partners yet. We have a lot to find out about what exactly a community kitchen is, what they do, how they work within the community and its benefits!
Before we survey any community kitchens, we need to be sure we are asking the right questions and actively listening to anyone we talk to. Both the ABCD strategy (Calabash Trust, 2014) and TED talk (Steel, 2009) which were covered in class put emphasis on asking questions and active listening, instead of downplaying or underestimating our community partners’ routines and ways of operating. We want to find out what improvements they would like to see in the future for their community kitchens and learn the reasoning behind it. It is important for everyone to have a positive experience working with UBC students. We look forward to collaborating with the community and the City of Vancouver to help better support these kitchens. We are excited to see how far we get in the next few weeks!
Calabash Trust (2014). Asset Based Community-led Development [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_muFMCLebZ4
Steel, C. (2009). Carolyn Steel: How food shapes our cities: TED TALKS [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4GutLm8DAo