Blog Post 5 – Graceful Dismount

Assessing Community Kitchen Assets in Marpole, Oakridge, Riley Park and Sunset Neighborhoods in Vancouver, BC

Executive Summary

For this project, group 11 from the UBC LFS 350 class, worked with the City of Vancouver to assess community kitchen assets in the Marpole, Oakridge, Riley Park and Sunset neighborhoods. We completed a survey developed by the City of Vancouver, by interviewing four facilities that had community kitchen spaces. The survey was designed to assess the working condition of the kitchen and appliances, identify adjacent learning or dining space, identify who uses the kitchen, what the kitchen is used for and identify if there is any commonalities between community kitchens in Vancouver.

 

The data recorded will contribute to Vancouver’s Food Strategy Action Plan. The City of Vancouver has identified community kitchens as an integral part of Vancouver’s food system. Our project objectives were designed to reflect the food strategies action goals for community kitchens in Vancouver. Our first objective was to assess the physical condition of kitchen; second was to identify population that uses kitchen space and for what purpose; and third was to determine kitchen manager interest in expanding kitchen use. The survey questions (Appendix) were used to address these objectives while conducting research.

 

The results of the surveys found that all kitchens were in good working condition, with suitable appliances for food preparation and storage. Of the community kitchens surveyed two facilities were assisted living for adults with different abilities and were not open for public use, and two were religious centers that served a multitude of community members. The facilities were used for a range of programs, events, and rentals. Commonalities were difficult to identify because of varying nature of each facility and methodological limitations of a small sample size.

 

We concluded that a recommendation useful for both the City of Vancouver and the individual community kitchens was the creation of an online platform. If feasible, we recommend that the City of Vancouver use the community kitchen inventory list to connect external groups wanting to participate in food programs to available kitchen space. Some kitchens identified that a lack of volunteer and community member involvement as a barrier to success, and an online platform could connect the needs of community kitchens and community members.


 

Graceful Dismount

What?

Moving through our ‘graceful dismount’ our group has successfully worked together to finish our final assignments for LFS 350. A moment of significance the group shared was coming together and discussing the data we collected, and trying to find commonalities between all community kitchens visited and coming up with recommendations.

 

So what?

This process was significant because it was interesting to find out other experiences group members had at their site visit. Finding common themes was a difficult process because of our small sample size and each kitchen was different in their operations, programming and demographics they served. This discussion required us to meet several times and ask question to the teaching team. We identified that this was truly a ‘process’ of learning in which our instructors intended for this learning experience. When working through our final report it was difficult to use an asset-based community development (ABCD) lens when discussing recommendations for the community kitchens improvement. This concept felt out our comfort zone because our instinct was to focus on the deficits instead of the assets.

 

We came to the recommendations that an online platform would align with the City of Vancouver’s Food Strategy goals and the unique goals and needs of the each individual kitchen. An online platform may serve as a connector for groups looking to facilitate community kitchens and food skill development programs to a rentable kitchen, as well as volunteers wanting to help out and community members who want to participate. We think that this is a low barrier recommendation that focuses on the already present asset of community kitchens – the people involved in them.

 

The process of coming up with recommendations was most relatable to Ernesto Sirolli who talked about his work with an NGO. When interviewing a particular kitchen manager he encompassed passion that was truly inspiring and hoped that their community kitchen space could facilitate a social gathering around food that engaged both residents of their facility and community members. Ernesto Sirolli’s advice to ‘shut up and listen’ helped the group understand the needs of all stakeholders in this project. We wanted our recommendations to reflect Sirolli’s concept of ‘serving local passion’, listening to their goals and needs and connecting them with the right people and resources to make them successful.

 

Now what?

We look forward to see our data and hard work being put to use in the Vancouver Food Strategy. We hope to see changes implemented in community kitchens in the near future. The content we learned in this project such as changing our perspectives of community kitchens, gaining interview, survey and research skills can be transferable in our future career paths.


Work Cited

Ernesto Sirolli. (September, 2012). Want To Help Someone? Shut Up And Listen! Retrieved from
https://www.ted.com/talks/ernesto_sirolli_want_to_help_someone_shut_up_and_listen?language=en

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