Monthly Archives: October 2017

#2 – Progress


 Weekly Objectives and Achievements

Over the past few weeks, we have completed and achieved many of our objectives with the help of our community partner from the women’s centre. Our first meeting included interviews with our community partner to ensure our goals align with the mission, vision and values of the women’s center. Once passing the interviews, we were provided with insightful readings and forms regarding the privacy of our interviewees and the expectation of the center. We also completed criminal record checks.

This week we have been focusing on communicating with the centre in order to understand the extent of our project. Through communication, the expectation of the coordinators of the women’s centre became clear, as well as our next steps of the project.

One lesson we learned from this week was how to present the women’s center in our blogpost. To avoid the complication of using the organizations name, we chose to refer to the organization as the women’s centre. This act of communication allowed us to foster a positive relationship with our partner, and helped us to build trust for the future.



To evaluate our progress we will use the what, so what, now what framework.



Research was conducted online regarding what food programs are available in the DTES. It was discovered that various food programs exist in the area and are catered to different demographics. Different food programs allot free food to different members of society. For instance, some are for pregnant women, or women in general, as well as women and children in cohesion. Others provide low costs meals to their general members. Community members of the DTES also use a food bank and a community kitchen.

We have also considered the women’s centre’s current role in the resource access web of the DTES. The food program they will put in place is an extension of the society they have already created. To implement a food program that is as effective as possible, our group must consider the assets the women’s centre currently holds.

So What:

Our background research and literature review provides a basis of understanding the potentials of the work we will conduct. This knowledge is significant because it reflects the various pre-existing resources for women in the DTES. It is not surprising that there are already programs in place for women, as they are of a demographic who are among the most vulnerable to malnutrition, a direct result of food insecurity (Sachs, 2014).

By conducting the literature review in a jointly edited document, we are consistently exposed to one another’s work, bringing all of our knowledge together. An overview of the different programs was extrapolated from this research, allowing us to better understand the range of programs available. We have broken down the aspects of the many food programs into a series of moving parts, which allow the food programs to fill different niches within the larger web of food access improvement strategies. These are: Accessory services (coupled to the food program); Group of people it is accessible to; Specific food services that it provides; Needs or desires it caters to in the community that are self-determined; External needs or desires, e.g. nutritional requirements, governmental standards, larger community development goals; Impact on marginalized voices (within and outside of the socially marginalized demographic that the women centre serves); Cost to the organization and requirements of staffing and equipment, and preparation, storage, and sourcing possibilities.

This information outlines how programs may be designed. Such models can be used to create an improved model better suited to the needs and desires of the women who access the resource centre. As such, these findings will shape how we design our survey questionnaire to further gather our data. It is really important to understand the diversity of potential food program structures when we enter into dialogue with participants in our study, so that we can at once ask open-ended questions and be able to use responses creatively in our analysis and suggestions, while also being able to follow up with questions about these aspects in order to refine and narrow down the preferences of participants. The literature review, then, will help us build stepping stones between the raw data that we collect and how we should reflect on and use it.

Now what:

After considering the information gathered through the literature review, we better understand how we will create a clear and concise survey questionnaire. This is pertinent to creating an optimal survey that will best elicit functional data that may be used to construct a unique food program; one that is indeed based on the needs and desires of the women who access the resource centre. We will incorporate the FAO’s food-security framework (Sachs, 2014) as well as the asset based development approach (Mathie, 2003) while designing the survey. In this manner we can create not only a program that meets the needs of the women, but also one that is increasingly plausible, viable and sufficient. In particular, we will need to communicate with the women’s centre to unearth what assets they have or could acquire to support a food program. More generally, the plausibility, viability and sufficiency increase using these models, as we consider the limits of the women’s centres capacity to promote a food program, we consider the various aspects of food programs niches, as well as the four pillars of food security outlined by the FAO: availability, access, utilization, and stability.

Objectives and achievements: a matrix


Upcoming Objectives

Several aspects of the project must be approved by the coordinators of the women centre before continuing. Specifically, the survey questionnaire that will be used as a guide to the talks we will carry out, as well as the advertising poster and the schedule for the guided talks must be approved.


How we will achieve these objectives

Members of our team will design a poster to be used to advertise our interviews by October 20th. The poster will be sent for confirmation before it is posted at the drop-in centre. In order to confirm an interview schedule for the upcoming month, we will send the coordinators our weekly availability by October 17th, which will be used by the coordinators to create the interview schedules. We will also research what resources are already available to the women in the DTES through the women’s shelter and other nearby establishments, as well as online to consolidate our understanding of the neighbourhood.




Work cited:

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.

Sachs, C., & Patel-Campillo, A. (2014). Feminist food justice: Crafting a new vision. Feminist Studies, 40(2), 396-410.

Creating a Food Program For a Women’s Centre in the Downtown Eastside

Hello and welcome to our blog! We are so happy to be beginning our project with our community partner, the women’s centre on the Downtown Eastside, over the next couple of months. We hope to make this blog a place to communicate our journey in creating a drop-in food program for the women and children who access their resources. In this blog post we will introduce ourselves as a team, introduce the centre and the goals of the project, and review our own goals and approaches while working with them.


From left to right: Sydney, Angela, Amanda, Christina, Caterina, Ingird

Let’s get started with some introductions!

Caterina Marra is a third-year student studying Global Resource Systems and specializing in health. Caterina’s interests include social and environmental justice, preventative healthcare, and community capacity building. She also enjoys time spent with her friends, family, as well as with trees!

Angela Tung is a third year Food, Nutrition, and Health student. She enjoys practicing yoga and making home cooked meals.

Ingrid is a third year student at UBC, majoring in Nutritional Science. Ingrid enjoys cooking for friends and family, doing latte art, and travelling.

Amanda is in fourth year student at UBC in the Food, Nutrition, and Health program. Amanda enjoys teaching skating, volunteering with youth, and eating good food during her free time.

Sydney is in her third year in the Food, Nutrition, and Health program at UBC. Her interests include nutrition, promoting wellness in the community, and spending time in nature.

Last but not least, Christina is majoring in Plant and Soil Sciences within Global Resource Systems. Christina is interested in helping to make the northern regions of Canada more food secure. Christina also loves photography, and bringing art to unusual places.

More About Community Partner

Our community project with the women’s centre is very meaningful to us as a group. We chose to be involved with this project because we want to support them in developing a meaningful food program for the women and children who access their service – in order for them to have access to safe and healthful food that reflects their needs and desires. The centre works to provide resources such as safe housing and education to women and children impacted by violence.

Team’s First Impressions

While choosing this project, we agreed with the centre’s  objectives and mission to ending gendered violence, and thought that this project was one that could be directly impactful and tactful. In order to create this food program, our first steps include making connections with the women of the centre and their community within Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Throughout the project each and everyone of us hopes to learn and connect with the communities in the Downtown Eastside, including the centre’s own community of women and children. We believe this interaction will not only broaden our knowledge on issues women in the Downtown Eastside face, but will allow for our project to be more meaningful to us and the women who will be using the food service.

Team Goals

Through this project with working with the women’s centre, we we hope to gain an insight of what it is like working with vulnerable populations and communities – and how to use an Asset Based Community approach. We are so lucky to be working with , and we think that having the knowledge of how to properly work with a community is so important for the work we’re doing now and in the future, perhaps with other communities in the Downtown Eastside.

Project Overview

Our project will involve discussing ideas for a drop-in food program with residents in the surrounding community as well as people who are already use the organization’s other resources. Though we will be reviewing other food programs in the community, our goal is to create a report stating the needs and desires of the women and children at the centre to create a drop in program that will be positively impactful. In order to find out the needs of the woman there, we will be carrying out interviews to see what they would like to see in a food program. We hope to compile their feedback and then work with their available resources that are useful and wanted by women within the Downtown Eastside to propose a food program. We want our community project to also reflect the centre’s objectives: to focus on a harm reduction, anti – oppressive advocacy, and feminism, all in a safe and inclusive space at the centre. Communicating with the people who would use the resources the centre wants to provide for as a ground for development is necessary and meaningful because it allows the organization to fill unique needs and address needs in unique ways, perhaps better, and more fully. Through our interests in women’s health, food security, and community capacity building, we hope to be helpful community partners that can work with the community to implement a sustainable food program to improve food security in the neighbourhood. We want to participate and learn from the staff and patrons of the centre, to better our perspectives and help to see what it means to be thoughtful and proactive in nonprofit work of any kind.

In this project we will be using an Asset Based Community approach. This means we are supporting our community partner to make their own decisions with the resources they have. In addition to seeing what the women are looking for in a food program at the centre, we also want to see what is working for the women in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside in regards to food security at this time. Asset Based Community Development is helping communities to thrive through working with existing resources. This implementation can be very effective in the long term because it gives strength and independence to communities. This is significant as community members truly understand the community issues, thus with asset based community development, they can create viable changes that they deem necessary. We are not working with community partners to share our opinions and advice, we are there for support. We are so grateful to have learned about this approach in our LFS 350 classroom, the UBC Learning Exchange, and through Ernesto Sirolli’s TED Talk. In Ernest Castello’s TED Talk “Want to help someone? Shut up and listen!”, he talked about the importance of never showing up to a community with any idea of what you want to implement. The community you are working with has the knowledge of what needs to be done with their community to make a long lasting positive impact. So by showing up to a community with an idea of what needs to be done, you are already harming the community you want to be helping. This is why with our project with our community partner we will be summarizing the opinions of the women from the centre when creating a proposal for a food program, and not suggesting any ideas that do not reflect their needs and desires. Gottlieb and Joshi (2010) defined Food Justice as three areas that need to be be addressed which are “(i) seeking to challenge and restructure the dominant food system, (ii) providing a core focus on equity and disparities and the struggles by those who are most vulnerable, and (iii) establishing linkages and common goals with other forms of social justice activism and advocacy—whether immigrant rights, worker justice, transportation and access, or land use.” We understand that women using the centre in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside are a vulnerable population that may or may not be food secure. We hope to follow this framework of food justice and hope that our work with the women’s centre will help restructure the women’s food system to be one that is more food secure. Christina and a few other students walked around the area (UBC Learning Exchange) after the initial session and visited an art gallery, which Christina had walked by many times before but never took notice to as an artistic space, proving immediately that our impressions are flimsy and that there will be so, so much to learn in the process of doing this project, of scales hard to imagine now and about things we can’t predict.


Gottlieb, R., & Joshi, A. (2010). Food Justice. MIT Press.