Since we last spoke…

Since our last update, we managed to finish writing our first draft of the survey; we then piloted the survey with an amazing group of seniors at 411 Seniors’ Centre in Vancouver. Their feedback on the survey has been incredibly helpful as we are currently in the process of writing our revised survey and final report.


Moment of Significant Change


As mentioned earlier, we were given the opportunity to meet with some seniors at 411 Seniors’ Centre; the discussion around the effectiveness of our pilot survey was rewarding. Our focus group at the centre evoked plenty of meaningful discussion and helped us gain a better perspective on some of the individual concerns.

We noticed the group discussion expanded beyond just evaluating the survey implying that perhaps the survey questions might increase awareness of disaster preparedness. For example, we noticed that the questions included in our survey prompted the group to consider the scope of their ability to help during a disaster, and began a discussion regarding the methods they could use or have used in the past to ensure the wellbeing of the others in their community. The group also proposed some concrete changes to improve the survey including changing the survey response scales to a numeric system of 1-5 and the incorporation of biking as a means for food access.

So What?

After having a dramatic decrease in team morale this term (See Blog 3), this experience at 411 Seniors’ Centre helped rekindle the excitement felt during Week 1 of this project. The process of literature selection, literature review and finally, survey design was challenging and time-consuming; admittedly, we were feeling a bit anxious to take our survey out into the community. This nervousness and anxiety disappeared quickly as we saw how positively the focus group received the survey. Their questions and comments surrounded the important criteria (Table 1) we hoped to evaluate using this survey as well as overarching themes or concepts that we did not ask about directly. As well, we were pleased to see how appreciative they were for being included in our pilot survey, and this also contributed to our positive experience.

These responses helped to reinforce that the tool we produced actually asked the right questions and helped to raise awareness of our topic. These results helped to drastically improve group outlook on the project and came at the perfect moment in the semester. Our pilot study was overall an extremely positive experience.  

Table 1. Criteria for evaluating resilience

Concept Criteria Indicators
Resilience: A food system perspective in resilience planning will prioritize the right strategies to ensure that the food system returns to normal as quickly as possible (Zeuli, 2017).

Communication preferences

Prefered communication methods

Past communication methods

Do they feel informed

Relevance of government recommendations

Food access

Physical disability

How and where they currently get food

Ease of Recovery

Financial stability

Disaster insurance

Social support

Emergency plan

Personal concerns

Now What?

We hope to use this newfound excitement to motivate us in the last week ensuring our final products meet the highest standards. We can already observe this motivating force in our collaboration efforts as we enter the initial stages of report writing, infographic creation and survey revision. We could also observe the positive benefits of our efforts in the debrief following the survey pilot. We made a streamlined set of deadlines that would work around everyones’ schedules to hopefully minimize stress over the final week but also allowing for sufficient time to revise as necessary.

From meeting with the seniors, it is clear to us that the survey encouraged thinking about their own personal resilience as well as the resilience of the City of Vancouver; we hoped for this outcome in the early stages of our survey-writing. This demonstrates how effective our survey could be if implemented on a larger scale. This process of using representatives of a particular community in the city of Vancouver is one way through which this survey can report on, and contribute to asset-based community development. Through discussing issues with individuals, especially those who may be underrepresented otherwise helps to better understand the mechanisms a community may already employ and use city resources to work synergistically toward improving our collective food security. As well, consideration of specific groups of individuals, such as the seniors in our study, is one example of how this survey utilized a food justice lens; our process could be mimicked for similar groups that may also be underrepresented in food systems discussions. We hope that our survey instrument can be implemented by a future LFS 350 group.

Further studies using our survey could be useful for collecting data on the public perceptions and readiness of citizens of Vancouver as well as provide an incentive for individuals to reflect on their own preparedness.

Moments of Significant Change

Since we last spoke…

Since our last blog post and the narrowing of our scope of this project, we have been occupied with researching our topic of Disaster Preparedness in the context of a population 65 years and older. The detailed steps that have been taken over the past few weeks are outlined under the “Weekly Objectives” section near the end of this post.


Moments of Significant Change


At the beginning of the semester, we felt excited about the potential in this project. The idea of meeting new people and learning about their perspectives on Vancouver’s food system resilience was something that appealed to entire group. The prospect of creating a podcast out of our findings was also something we were all very eager to try. However, as we moved forward in the semester we noticed that our group morale decreased over time. Perhaps it was because we felt very confused about the topic of our project, or because we were struggling with deciding how to carry out our study, but this decline in positivity was felt throughout the team.


Receiving feedback on our proposal was one of the significant moments of change with respect to our changing skills. Often, seeing work objectively can be challenging, and as a result, growth and development can be difficult to attain. We unanimously found that the feedback we received on our proposal promoted re-examining our proposal to clarify any unsubstantiated claims, as well as further encouraged the use of evidence in the structuring of our study.


In the context of this course, although brief, there were a few lectures that stood out among the rest; Week 5’s lecture on feminism was intriguing and thorough; this lecture served to shed light on the different waves of feminism, and the need for intersectionality when working around problems in the modern food system. Another especially eye-opening lecture was from Week 9; a lecture by a guest speaker, Niisii Guujaaw, on Indigenous Food Security. Experiencing a lecture from a peer, who is so connected to her own culture and heritage felt like a privilege. This lecture stood out as it was a more personal experience, that enhanced our knowledge through a way of learning which was different from traditional academic narratives.

Finishing Strong

Upon completion of this project, we hope to see our skills and knowledge expand from where we began at the beginning of this term. So far we have already seen our proposal writing and literature review skills be tested and improved upon. Through meeting with 411 Seniors, and communicating with Suzi Kennedy at the centre, we hope to become more confident and comfortable interacting with individuals of the community in a professional manner. As well, we will all be new to the creation and designing of an infographic, so this aspect of the course will provide a new and unique learning experience. Finally, by the end of this term, we expect that emotions will be high as hope to have completed this project successfully and on time!

Moments of Significant Change


Past Weekly Accomplishments

October 15 – 21


  • Revise project proposal as necessary, integrating feedback from our first submission
  • Identify which participants we want to recruit for this study


  • Narrowing of our scope to focus on the senior population of Vancouver (age 65+)
  • Contacted members of the Vancouver Food Strategy Council to find participants for our study

October 22 – 28


  • Use flexible learning to make further revisions to the project
  • Continue literature review to find methods to carry out our study and come up with potential questions for our survey
  • Identify individuals 65y+ to participate in our study


  • Reached out to 411 Senior Center, Vancouver, who volunteered to participate in our study

October 29 – November 4


  • Individually and as a group, reflect on moments of significant change that occurred this semester
  • Begin designing questions for our survey
  • Tentatively, produce a first draft of our survey by the end of the week


  • Produce a timeline/graph that illustrates how the group has experienced working together this semester
  • Set up a date and time to meet with individuals at the senior centre to collect feedback on survey draft

What’s Next?

We hope that over the next few weeks, we will, as compared to the last weeks that were spent updating, modifying and structuring our project:

  • Meet with 411 Seniors Centre for feedback on survey
  • Meet/contact members of Vancouver Food Strategy Council for feedback on survey
  • Revise the survey based on participant feedback
  • Finalize the survey
  • Begin writing a formal report on our study
  • Develop our infographic (upon collection of data and results)


The Graceful Dismount

To successfully complete this project, we have decided to split up each task between the members of our group. Using a table of all the tasks that need to be done, and their end dates, we are each able to sign up for tasks we know we can complete, and can then be held accountable for these tasks. This allows each individual the flexibility to complete tasks at their own pace, but still ensures that each person contributes to the final project and is aware of our deadlines. As well, communicating with each other will remain an important part of completing this project. Communication is an important aspect of all group work, especially with regards to scheduling conflicts or regarding any questions group members may have. As well, it is important for each group member to be aware of the commitments others may have as we near the busy end of the semester, and above all, to remain calm amidst this busy month ahead

Progress, Proposals and Significance

What have we been up to?

The Fall term is slipping away swiftly and Midterm exams are in full force. In the midst of it all the Project Proposal has been finally submitted. After many hours of deliberations, writing and re-writing it is finally complete; yet it is still a work in progress and subject to change as the project continues to unfold. After more literature review and group discussion, we decided to focus the survey on the 65+ demographic in Vancouver. This is an example of the many iterations that the proposal has endured before landing on a workable research plan. This iterative process has been uncertain and frustrating at times but rewarding as the pieces have fallen into place.

Why does it matter?

Prior LFS 350 sessions revealed the inequality and inequity within our food system. When viewing the food system through a food justice lens, it becomes apparent that there are groups in our community who’s access to food would be disproportionately affected, were a disaster to hit the city. This prompted our desire to focus on a food insecure community in Vancouver: namely, seniors. Integrating their voice into public perceptions research in Vancouver will give focused insight to the conversation around food system resilience.

What’s next?

There are numerous goals in the coming three weeks, including:

  • Reviewing resilience literature
  • Designing initial survey questions
  • Meeting with food system professionals for feedback on the project so far
  • Recruiting participants for our pilot survey

With so much to do, a project timeline was created to map out important due dates and goals. We have implemented the Asana online platform to break down big steps into smaller tasks that can be assigned to individual group members. This should help us stay organized and keep the project moving forward smoothly. We have begun to reach out into the community for volunteers to participate in the pilot. In the meantime, we are reviewing prior studies that have gathered public perception data on disaster risk. Analyzing this prior work will serve as an invaluable resource as we begin to design our own survey questions.


Past Weekly Accomplishments

September 10 – 16

  • Gain a basic understanding of the project
  • Reflect on individual strengths and weakness
  • Share contact information
  • Set up a Google drive folder for ease of collaboration on assignments
  • Facebook messenger was established as platform for team communication
  • Set up a group Gmail account for outgoing communication with community partners
  • Set up a Google drive folder for collaboration on assignments

September 17 – 23

  • Meet with community partner, Sarah Carten, from City of Vancouver
  • Complete blog post 1
  • Successful launch of first blog post!

September 24 – 30

  • Spend time brainstorming ideas for project proposal
  • Completed TCPS 2 certificate
  • Submitted first draft of project proposal

October 1 – 7

  • Proposal revision  
  • Presented first draft of proposal to peers
  • Literature review for proposal

October 8 – 14

  • Use our first Flexible Learning session to revise our project proposal and complete a deeper literature review to enhance the project proposal
  • Appreciate the challenges of creating a project proposal and embrace the many iterations before and after submission
  • Implemented Asana platform for task management and organization
  • Complete Blog post 2
  • Submitted Project Proposal revision

Click here to see our revised Project Proposal! 


From left to right: Lesley, Bethany, Celeste, Michelle, Melchor, Kate

Lesley Miller, a 3rd year in Food, Nutrition and Health, is fascinated by how different nutrients interact with our genes. She greatly enjoys asking questions about nutrition controversies and conducting research to better understand the complexity of human health. When not at school, she enjoys running and long cycle rides up the Sea to Sky Highway.

Bethany Del Begio is a third year Food, Nutrition & Health student majoring in dietetics. She is particularly interested in the roles food security and nutrition play in mental health. Outside of school Bethany loves exploring the outdoors, digging into the local music scene, and playing ping pong.

Celeste Cardoz is a third year Nutritional Sciences student, particularly interested in the socio-economic, environmental, as well as cultural factors, that influence eating patterns and human nutrition. She is interested in the role that these factors occupy in the development of healthy relationships with food. When not at school or studying, Celeste can be found in the gym, out running, or travelling.

Michelle Huang is a fourth year Global Resource Systems student. She is interested in environmental justice. In her personal life, she loves travelling to different cities to enjoy the unique vibes of each space.

Melchor Berceles is a third year Food, Nutrition & Health student and is interested in human anatomy; he hopes to use his degree to help better himself and those around him. Melchor loves making music with his friends and enjoys teaching karate to children at his local community centre.

Kate Hengel is in her third year of an Applied Plant and Soil Science degree. She is interested in the relationship between climate change and agriculture, as well as the role soils play in supporting both natural and cultivated systems. In her spare time, Kate enjoys time in the mountains, sharing food with friends, and biking around the city.


Group interests and goals:

As a group, we are excited to engage with the public and learn about different perspectives community members have about the resiliency of Vancouver’s food system, in the event of a natural disaster. We were drawn to this project because it explores a current issue that many communities are facing globally; and is especially relevant to the Vancouver community. Through this project, we hope to characterize public awareness of this topic, and contribute to the city’s understanding of how Vancouver residents may respond to an event that disrupts the city’s food supply.


What we wish to gain from LFS 350:

During this project, we wish to gain both technical skills and interpersonal skills. In terms of technical capabilities, we would like to learn how to produce a podcast; production of an informative piece in a medium that is new to all of us, but is also easily accessible to the general public. Analytical abilities are skills we hope to develop during this term. Analytical skills will benefit our ability to evaluate both the information that we gather from the general public, as well as the literature available to us. From our assessment, we then hope to be able to identify possible weaknesses and/or strengths that the community possesses with respect to its food system resilience. We hope to obtain a better understanding of unique challenges that each food system in Vancouver must face, and raise our own, and the public’s awareness of the frailties of this system in the event of a natural disaster. Although we are working with a serious, and often overwhelming topic, we hope to meet new people, make connections, and most importantly have fun!


Community organization + Project objectives

For this project, we will be working with the Food Strategy Implementation Team under the guidance and supervision of the City of Vancouver Social Policy Department. The Food Strategy Implementation Team considers creating a sustainable food system in Vancouver a top priority and aims to support, empower, and improve the many people that partake in the city’s current system. While working with this team, we plan to investigate public perceptions regarding the strengths and weaknesses of the current food system in Vancouver when under the stress of a potential disaster, as well as citizen perceptions of their own readiness for such an event. We hope to use our findings to help raise awareness of the topic in a podcast.


First impressions of process to date

We found the process of framing our research question challenging; equally as challenging was deciding how to best approach individual members within a specific community. After reflection on the words of Ernesto Sirolli, it’s critical to our project that we understand individual approaches to disaster preparedness. Every community member will prepare and respond to a crisis in their own unique way; they will have their own ideas and their own creative solutions that will address this communal problem from varying perspectives. Intervention proposals from other parts of this resilience project (production, distribution, processing) will be greatly enhanced by the inclusion of unique voices that may not typically be included in such a study. We are excited that our portion of the Vancouver resilience project focuses specifically on the lived experiences of individuals in Vancouver; we look forward to actively listening to the individuals we encounter throughout our discovery.