Author Archives: aarbuah



I have always wondered what the real purpose of hosting a farewell party is. Most people I’ve asked believe that it’s for everyone to say their last goodbyes before the person leaves. Although that may technically be the case, I believe that be it for work, family or friends, farewell parties are a celebration of the person’s journey so far. It highlights all the relationships built, all the challenges faced, and all the lessons learnt by this individual in a particular setting. Rather than signifying the end of a journey it acknowledges his/her success and progress in this journey – a better job, a better home, the next stage in life. Similarly, this last blog is a highlight of our success, as a team and as individuals, on this project as well as an illustration of the knowledge we have gained that we will carry with us as we continue in our journeys.

Executive Summary

In collaboration with the Food Strategy Implementation Team at the City of Vancouver’s Social Policy department, us students from the University of British Columbia conducted field visits and interviews with supervisors of publicly accessible kitchens, in West End Vancouver. This neighbourhood comprises of Davie village, home to the city’s LGBT community, as well as Robson and Alberni streets that showcase high-end retail stores. However, the neighbourhood also has a higher percentage of population living below the poverty line, compared to the city, making them vulnerable to food insecurity. The objective of this study was to assess the type, use and condition of publicly accessible kitchens and, based on the findings, make appropriate recommendations to support kitchen programming that may be implemented as an approach to address food security issues in the community. In person interviews were conducted with kitchen supervisors, at four different facilities, using a survey including questions in regards to the use, management and equipment condition. Collected data was compiled using Microsoft Excel and analyzed using bar graphs. Analysis of the results showed that all the community kitchens surveyed offered different programs for the community. Three out of four kitchens allowed kitchen access only to designated volunteers and staff members. While only two out of the four kitchens were fully equipped to support programming in the community. This suggests that community kitchens closely monitor the changing needs of their neighbourhood in order to appropriately cater to its needs. Also, opening kitchen access to the public may encourage more community members to participate in kitchen programs. Lastly, funding may aid kitchens to expand their infrastructure and afford appropriate equipment for use in kitchen programs. Nevertheless, it must be considered whether community kitchens serve as long or short term solutions to food insecurity. Are there other aspects of the food system such as government policies or food production which may play a role in decreasing the prevalence of food insecurity?


As our community kitchen project has come to an end, we have successfully collected the necessary data. We did, however, experience some challenges contacting facilities and arranging meetings.  Consequently, we visited four kitchens instead of six (like we had originally planned).This being said, the four kitchens we did visit provided us with some valuable information. We obtained a wide range of responses which demonstrated the diverse needs of certain community kitchens. It is our hope that the results we obtained will be of use to our community partners.

So What?

Our findings are important because they provide an alternate lense to look through, helping us to understand the complexity of community kitchens. It is possible that through our data, we will contribute some knowledge and varying perspectives to the existing literature. Because our research is specific to the West End of Vancouver, it serves as a case study that may provide insight for those looking to gain more information on the issue.


Why else is this important? Why should people care?

Although we surveyed a small sample size which may not be representative of the entire Vancouver community, our research can be used to outline how some community kitchens are currently operated. Our analysis will give more information about the factors that are working for kitchens, others that are not and the reasons why. Our research and analysis will then direct the development of possible programming and help support kitchens in ways that are appropriate for meeting the needs of communities.

Now what?

Now, we need to analyze the data and produce a final report about our findings. This is the most challenging part of the whole process. It will require teamwork and cooperation from the entire group to complete this task. We will have to develop a report that correctly reflects our experience and clearly states the main findings. The report will be reviewed by our community partners, so it needs to be of good quality and appropriate. Ideally, everyone’s questions will be answered and the community partners will be able to use this information to further enhance their current knowledge about community kitchens. In the future, our findings may be used to implement more community programming in the West End. Hopefully, this project will have a positive impact and make a difference in the way food insecurity is handled in Vancouver.

The community kitchen project was a good experience and a good example of collective action. Students had the opportunity to collaborate with community stakeholders to tackle the issue of food insecurity in neighborhoods. This gave us a chance to develop many skills that will be useful in our future careers. Time management is an important skill that we learned throughout this journey. We also learned to persevere and work together as a group, regardless of the circumstance. We learned to identify the positives in both the high and low moments. One of the most important skills is to be able to reach the expectations and be accountable.


We hope you have enjoyed reading all our blogs and until we cross paths again – “So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye” (The Sound of Music, 1965).

Making the Call

Having just moved to Canada, on my first day of school, I found myself fumbling for some stationery. After, what felt like eons of searching, I turned to the guy sitting next to me and asked, “Excuse me, do you have a rubber?”. To my horrific surprise, his reddening cheeks burst with laughter and sentenced me to a term of embarrassment, while teaching me that what I was looking for was identified as an eraser. Eventually, I learnt that different people identify and interpret things differently and that it is crucial to be on the same page to communicate efficiently (or well, at least to save one-self from utter embarrassment) – Embarrassed group member.

This past week, our objective was to improve communication between the group. This was done by exchanging availabilities, designing a weekly meeting schedule, delegating tasks and setting short-term goals in order to complete our project in an effective and timely manner. The above, allowed us to search for additional community accessible kitchens, start contacting kitchen managers, and scheduling visits to the assigned kitchens in our neighbourhood. Since our contacting efforts were made closer to lunchtime, we were only able to connect with two kitchen managers.

Our approach included calling and emailing the facility and making the necessary arrangements. During this process, one of the kitchen managers initially agreed to a kitchen visit and later decided otherwise.The manager explained that his schedule had filled up and gave the impression that he perceived the kitchen was inadequate for the purpose of our project. He then redirected us to a city-run community kitchen.This indicated that there may have been some miscommunication regarding the nature of our project, although, we felt that we were clear about our purpose. Thus, a clarification of our interests in non-city run kitchens, of all forms, may have been required. A communication gap may have occurred due to some assumptions made based on the response received during the initial phone conversation. This is a reflection of how different people may have varying interpretations to what is being communicated.

Initially, we felt a little discouraged, however we realize that these are some of the challenges faced during community based learning. Moving forward, it will be important that we keep this experience in mind while interacting with members of the community. Especially during the interview process, where even non-verbal communication by the interviewer may be interpreted differently by the interviewee, further leading to a bias in information provided. Hence, neutrality in expression and reactions to survey answers will not only assure the collection of unbiased data but also prevent these individuals from feeling judged. If interviewees are hesitant or do not know how to answer a question, try asking it in a clearer manner.

Our experience can be likened to The Fish Bank podcast by Jensi Sartin. In this podcast, a fish sanctuary is created on the coast of Bali, Indonesia. The sanctuary received overwhelming support by the local community and after a number of years, the protected fish flourished, as well as fish in surrounding waters. This can be related to community kitchens as a whole. The fish sanctuary shows that by nurturing certain members of the community you can strengthen the system as a whole. In a sense, a community kitchen could be considered a human sanctuary that aims to strengthen those most in need until they are able to go out into the “wild” again.

We come into the equation as a sort of independent consultant to the fish reserve. Our goal is to identify ways these protective establishments can be supported and to reiterate their needs to an authority who can achieve this. What we aim to accomplish is somewhat like developmental aid consulting, in that we hope to serve and develop these establishments much like they serve and impact their surroundings.