We started here together and now we are leaving the same way.

—Group 16

Hello again! Sadly, this will be our last blog posting for this term. We hope you have enjoyed following us on our journey through LFS 350. We have learned a lot from our experiences with GNH and from working together. In this last blog, we would like to share with you one of our main moments of significance. A moment of significance which we all recall well was our second visit to GNH. We gained significant knowledge of the neighbourhood house, as well as became emotionally connected to the centre, the staff and the community members.


Photo credit: Ula Zhu


We went to GNH for the second time to implement our healthy meal into the Pay-What-You-Can (PWYC) Wednesday lunch. Before the lunch started, we explained to the community members who we were, why we were there and what we were doing. The community members were welcoming, kind, receptive, and encouraging. At first, we were worried that the implementation of a new meal would be a significant change from previous Wednesday meals and therefore not be accepted. We were fortunate to experience the PWYC meal from start to finish. We set up the room, prepared the meal, served the meal, communicated with the members, and finally cleaned up the kitchen and lunchroom afterwards. Collectively, we agreed, that this was one of the positive experiences in this course. We thoroughly enjoyed our last visit and being able to be apart of the community. It was fun for schoolwork to be in the form of experiential learning and community engagement rather than exams, readings and lectures. Additionally, having the opportunity to gain practical experience in the community has been a pivotal moment of significance for our group. We are able to see how these practical applications help improve community food security. This CBEL promotes community food security by adding more variety of food that’s appreciated by participants.

So what?

During our last visit, we interviewed and listened to community members, staff, and volunteers. There are several things that we learned along this adventure that we could not have learned while sitting in the classroom. For example, one of the volunteers explained some of the challenges faced by members who live in the West End of Vancouver. There are some individuals who have mobility issues and are unable to access GNH.

We observed community members enjoying their lunch and learned that besides the low cost meal, much of the enjoyment was being able to eat among friends, meet with new people, and interact with others. Fundamentally, GNH recognizes that “food brings us together and can act as vehicle for community-building” (Gordon Neighbourhood House, 2016). Moreover, Stephanie Shulhan, the community programmer, explained that the lunch program is socially appreciated by the participants (personal communication, 2016). There were a few members who thought that the chilli was too spicy, but they enjoyed the gathering nonetheless.

Kirk et al. (2001) found that daytime meal programs, much like PWYC at GNH, are frequented by people who live alone and in isolation. Most peeople who attend the meal programs endure the financial aspect because they appreciate the social environment; suggesting that lunch programs are an essential social opportunity for those who live alone (Kirk, Waldrop, & Rittner, 2001).

It is interesting seeing our lessons from class come to life. LFS 350 has taught us that listening is key. Even though we may think that we are more privileged, we must be cautious and first listen to the community members. We almost made this mistake by wanting to implement our meal right away in the first visit! With little knowledge of how PWYC operates, the space of the kitchen, and the prefence of the community members, it would have been harder to help GNH improve their lunch program. Luckily, our community partner suggested that we should participate in the Wednesday lunch first to see how the program was managed. We were given the chance to listen to the community members, playing a critical role in the appreciation of our meal during the second visit.

Photo credit: Ula Zhu

Now what?

In addition to the enjoyable nature of our project, we expanded our knowledge through teamwork. We gathered effective team communication skills as it is important to agree with our intentions as a team prior to stepping foot into the community centre. Also, as we mentioned earlier, it is of grave importance to understand the community centre before implementing changes. We therefore gathered that we can gain trust in the people, and that in trusting us they will be more tolerable to change.

As a team, we are quite social and quick to respond on group social media. Having full participation of the members of our team, made the semester and the project a positive experience. We were able to connect with the community members and share our own stories. Speaking with the community members, we were able to learn about them and vice versa.

Although our journey with LFS 350 is approaching to an end, our interest in community involvement will never stop. We are thankful for having the opportunity to explore iimg_3301-2n depth a community engagement programs. We can see how community program improvements can be implemented. We would love to utilize the knowledge we gained through this project in future community work. Overall, time and location permiting, we would love to return to volunteer at the GNH PWYC program again! Looking forward, we hope the LFS350 students in the next year will be able to continue with this amazing project and add more variety to GNH PWYC lunch program. We also do wish the chilli soup become sustainable and enjoyed by more community members! All the best to Gordon Neighbourhood House!!!



Kirk, A. B., Waldrop, D. P., & Rittner, B. A. (2001). More than a meal: The relationship between social support and quality of life in daytime meal program participants. Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 35(1), 3-20. doi:10.1300/J083v35n01_02

Gordon Neghbourhood House. (2016). Food Philosophy. Retrieved from http://gordonhouse.org/about-gordon-neighbourhood-house/right-to-food/

Strategies for a Graceful Dismount

“A moment of significant change is when a critical event adjusts people’s beliefs and attitudes”

– Group 16

Hello again and happy Movember November! We hope you have enjoyed following along on our journey so far! Last week we visited Gordon Neighbourhood House (GNH) for the third time, and served our second community lunch. We prepared a vegetarian chilli and a house green salad for this second session. From our observations and interviews, the community members seemed to enjoy the meal. Furthermore, they provided positive feedback to the new meal. Excited to receive feedback, we collected ratings and comments for our new meal. The data collected will be shared in our final project and infographic in early December.


Photo credit: Ula Zhu

Weekly Objectives & Achievements

  • What?

So far, our goals have been achieved and we are able to meet our deadlines. Fortunately, we have been able to utilize our flexible learning periods, by visiting GNH and working on our community based experiential learning (CBEL) project. Additionally, the timing of the Wednesday lunches aligned perfectly with class time so that we did not have to find days outside of our class schedule in order to do the project. During the second Wednesday lunch, some challenges arose and we easily resolved them through discussion among group members and communication with the community partner. For example, we felt uncertain when participants asked for extra food. After consulting the chef’s opinions, we decided not to give out extra servings as it would not be fair for other participants since we do not have sufficient amounts for everyone to receive a second helping. According to Shuman (2005), an educational psychologist, uncertainty in learning encourge students to spend more time in figuring out rules of management and focus on increasingly complex subject matter. Since we have finished all of our data collection in a timely manner, we have the next flexible learning period to work on data analysis, putting the information together and start working on the project report together. Yay!


Photo credit: Ula Zhu

  • So What?

Presently, we have compiled data from comment cards and observations, as well as analyzed some of the feedback. So far, we have been brainstorming ideas to properly display data. Charts, bar graphs and photos are most likely the most effective way to show our results. Since our project is mainly observation and conversation based and set in a lunch program, our data analysis will be simpler than other projects in our class. We will compare feedback from our two visits. In addition, we would like to evaluate the forms qualitatively to see if there is a difference in ratings of our meals between the two weeks.

  • Now What?

This week our objective is to uncover current literature and historic archives relevant to our community project. We are hoping to find more information on GNH, community lunch programs and their association with food justice in a procedural justice framework. According to Gibb & Wittman (2013), justice in the food system can ensure equal distributed benefits and burdens; procedure justice framework helps us recoginze and respect diverse pespectives of the food system. GNH plays a critical role in food justice by sharing and distributing locally grown food and make them accessible for the community. Moving forward, there is still a lot of uncertainty in our project. Although all the data collection and community work is done, we still need to write our report and finish up our final presentation and infographic. There is a lot of work to be done! With end of semester projects and papers in other courses in addition to LFS 350, we will definitely have our hands full. Despite a lot of course work, our group is supportive and everyone is a good team player. We know that together we can finish the semester strong!


Photo credit: Ula Zhu

Moment of Significant Change Workshop

  • What?

What does a moment of significant change mean to us? A moment of significant change is when a critical event adjusts people’s attitudes and beliefs (Group 16, 2016). In our tutorial this week we reflected on moments of significant change within our project and discussed the progression of our project thus far. We also talked about successful project completion in terms of knowledge, skills and emotions. By the end of the course we all hope to have greater knowledge and skill sets of our community partner centre as well as a positive final experience working together as a group and with GNH.

First, we started off by reflecting individually on moments of significant change in our knowledge of GNH, skills of the overall project, and finally, our emotions towards the project. We each constructed a line graph for each of these three areas. We then shared our graphs among the group and realized that we had many of the same moments of significance, as well as similar attitudes towards them. After discussing our thoughts and feelings with one another, we chose 7 moments of critical significance that we all agreed upon for our knowledge and skills and 5 for our emotions. Then, we constructed two larger line graphs: one with knowledge and skills, and the other with emotions. Our seven moments of significance for knowledge and skills were: meeting each other, our first visit to GNH to meet our community partner, our first blog posting,  our proposal report,  our 2nd visit to GNH to make the first meal, our second blog posting and our 3rd visit to GNH to make the second meal. As for the moments of significance for emotions we excluded our two blog postings. After plotting our individual points, we were able to visualize our concurrent feelings with our progress so far and that we all have high (and attainable) expectations for the end of the project and course.



  • So What?

From plotting the Skill & Knowledge graph, all of our group members agreed to have more knowledge about the GNH, communities and food security, and enhance our communication and meal prepartion skills through this project.

Our most positive feelings were felt when we visited GNH and when we were interacting with the community members. We felt the most frustrated when we were writing assignments. We tried our best to follow rubrics, but we felt as though our marks did not reflect our effort. We also felt that the assignment outlines were very unclear, making it difficult to decipher the writing requirements.

The first time that we met our group members left a strong impression and we all felt that we would be a compatible group. It was a significant moment in all of our minds because we knew that we would be working very closely together for the next three months.

The first visit to GNH stood out as a moment of significance because we increased our knowledge of the community centre and its members, as well as developed our interpersonal skills. As we mentioned in a previous blog posting, there existed some uncertainty prior to our visit to GNH especially the way that the Wednesday lunches were run. After communicating with our community partners, we gained a better understanding of the mission and values of GNH as well as some details about our project. It was a valuable experience touring around the whole community house, learning about the operations of different programs, familiarizing oursevles in the kitchen area where we would be working in the future. Getting to know the staff would also be an asset.

The first blog posting was significant for our group members because once we recieved our mark, we had a better understanding of the marking scheme. Most of us have never completed blog postings for other classes in the past so it is a completely new experience.

Our proposal report brought out a few negative emotions. As stated in our previous blogs, we felt lost on how to approach the proposal. On the other hand, with a few hardships came learning. We learned how to create an effective proposal. The skills that we have learned from writing the proposal will become useful in the future should we ever need them.

The second visit to GNH, similarly to the first one, brought happy emotions. After every visit with our community partner, we gained significant insight into GNH, the staff, the volunteers and importantly, the community members.


Photo credit: Ula Zhu

Our second blog posting allowed us to review on the things that we completed so far. This blog posting allows us to reflect as a group of the progress of our project and see whether we are doing things at the right pace. The weekly objectives and achievements allow us to check for things to improve our group’s teamwork abilities which enable us improve our group’s productivity for the future assignments.

Our third visit to GNH showed us the complexity of the community centre. We got to interview staff and volunteers and gained understanding of the issues that community members faced in their daily lives. Food insecurity, mobility issues and low income were a few of the resonating issues that we learned along the way. We also realized that GNH, being a non-profit organization, needs to allocate their funds very carefully. We also felt a little bit helpless as we wanted to help in the best way that we could, but with low funds we were restricted. Nonetheless, our relationship with our community partner stayed strong.


Photo credit: Ula Zhu

Positive attitudes and emotions were associated with each other and GNH. We found that having hands on experience created a constructive learning environment for us. We feel that we finally understand how LFS 350 will aid us in the future. Negative emotions were felt towards assignments. Our perceptions of the world, especially GNH and the community members, is now different. We realize that there are several right ways of accomplisihing things. We believe that it is truly important to put the needs of the community first by listening and integration into the community.

  • Now What?

By the end of the course we will have greater knowledge and skills in relation to GNH. We will look back on this experience as a positive one. Looking forward, we hope to have a complete appreciation of GNH and everyone in it. Having reviewed the positives and the negatives in the course, during the moment of significant change workshop, we now feel that we are on the final leg of our journey. We can work together to make the best experience for all and stay positive to the end. Our future plans include: meeting with group members at least once a week, clearly defining roles, using the strengths of our group members to our advantage and keeping a positive outlook. As a group, we will increase our group’s productivity and performance by approaching tasks and solving problems together. The completion of our Infographic, presentation and final report will help us spread our findings of the GNH Pay-What-You-Can lunch and the community members so that people can have a better understanding of food insecurity and strategies to combat food insecurity in the West End of Vancouver.


Photo credit: Ula Zhu


Strategies for a Graceful Dismount

As of right now, we feel marvelous about the progress we have made. Between group members, we haven’t had any conflicts. We plan to continue our ways of communication and the distribution of work. By having a strong group dynamic, we are supportive of group members –  by replying to emails/questions timely and debriefing after each flexible learning session to discuss our progress and challenges. Also, setting deadlines will help improve our group’s time management and participation with the end of the year nearing and when multiple assignments/projects are due. Meanwhile, we will continuously to reflect on Pay-What-You-Can lunch project and maintain connection with our community partner if they would like to incoroporate the chili meal into the regular Wednesday lunch menu. We believe that we can successfully complete this project. Please don’t forget to come back soon for our last blog posting for faring well!


Gibb, N., & Wittman, H. (2013). Parallel alternatives: Chinese-canadian farmers and the metro vancouver local food movement. Local Environment, 18(1), 1-19. doi:10.1080/13549839.2012.714763

Shulman, L. S. (2005). Pedagogies of uncertainty. Liberal Education, 91(2), 18.

Project Progress

“Food is the problem and solution.”  

A Guerilla Gardener in South Central LA

Hello and welcome back to our blog! Those of you reading the above citation might be a bit intrigued. As LFS students partaking in community food engagement projects, the TED talk by Ron Finley speaks to the nature of our class as we will explain a little later on. Hello and welcome back to our blog! During the past few weeks, we have worked as a group to identify, implement and achieve our objectives and goals, overcame obstacles in our project and used our unique strengths to contribute to group work. We have made some exciting progress in our community lunch program that we can’t wait to share with you! First of all, we completed our project proposal last week, where we introduced the background and significance of our GNH community lunch project in detail, identified the purpose and objectives, designed inquiry questions, planned the research methods to use, and the budget to follow. To view a copy of our project proposal, click here: Group 16 Proposal Report.


Photo credit: Amber Searwar

In this blog post, we are sharing with you our weekly objectives and achievements, reflections on moments that provided significance in our project, and lastly we are identifying our upcoming objectives and strategies on how to achieve them. Please keep reading to find these out!

Week Objectives Achievements
1 – Introduce group members – Introduced group members

– Setup online communication between group members

introduced ourselves to each other and discovered how to communicate effectively as a group

2 – Divide tasks for 1st blog posting – Divided task among group members for 1st blog

divided tasks evenly among group members

-everyone felt included in the project and no one felt overwhelmed with work

3 – 1st blog posting submitted for September 23rd – 1st blog posted on September 23rd

– worked as a group to complete the first blog posting on time

– everyone felt accomplished for completing the first formal written assignment of the term

4 – Create project proposal outline for October 4th

– Divide tasks for project proposal

– Submitted project proposal outline on October 4th

– Divided tasks among group members for project proposal

– created and submitted the project proposal outline as a group

– divided tasks evenly among group members

5 – 1st blog posting revision for October 5th

– Project proposal submitted for October 9th  

– Divide tasks for 2nd blog posting

– 1st blog revised and submitted on October 5th

– Submitted project proposal on October 9th

– Divided tasks among group members for 2nd blog

– we got stronger as a group by completing the project proposal together

– everyone felt appreciated and that they had a say in our project

-we had a better understanding on what our community project entails

6 – Attend GNH Tuesday lunch program to understand how the program is run and help with setup and cleanup of the hall

– Assist with GNH Wednesday Pay-What-You-Can lunch and speak with community members to understand how they enjoy the current meal and how we can improve the quality of the Wednesday lunches

– understand more on how GNH contributes to fight food injustice through the lunch program

-talk to volunteers and record their view on this lunch program, the system, and the members

– 2nd blog posting submitted for October 14th

– Two group members went to GNH on Tuesday, October 11th to get familiarized with the kitchen and meal-serving procedures

– familiarized ourselves with the kitchen and community space at GNH

– met the volunteers and saw how much they enjoy being able to help the community

– Successfully served a community lunch on Wednesday, October 12th

– had conversations with the community members and were able to get insight on what they like and don’t like about the current Wednesday lunch program

– Collected data (comment cards) and spoke with members of the community

comment cards were compiled into an excel document

– Completed 2nd blog posting on October 14th

7 – Put all of the information and data gathered from the first community lunch into excel and word documents

– Revise 2nd blog posting

8 – Prepare our meal (chili, salad, buns, and cookies) for October 26th at GNH

– Ask community members if they prefered this meal and if they would like to see it again in the future

– Compile data collected from the two Wednesday visits and understand how and if we can help the program to improve their Wednesday Pay-What-You-Can lunches

– Divide tasks for 3rd blog posting

– formulate a detailed recipe to send to GNH with the amount of ingredients and some notes describing improvements to our meal

-look at whether this meal can be sustainable for future meals

9 – 3rd blog posting submitted for November 6th

-reflect on overall experience at GNH

-reflect on the difficulties of the members ability to become food secure

-look further into improvements at GNH based on their assets

10 – Revise 3rd blog posting  
11 – Divide tasks for 4th blog posting
12 – 4th blog posting submitted for November 27th

– Prepare our final project presentation slides and report

– Discuss on how we’re going to finalize our project for the term

13 – Files submitted for final project presentation and final written report on November 27th


Notes from the video “A Guerilla Gardener in South Central LA (Ron Finley)”

Ron shows us how an individual’s behavior and action could have a positive influence on the food system. Just like South Central LA, the West End of Vancouver has many liquor stores and fast food restaurants, which may be indirectly related to the high obesity rate. Accessibility to healthy food is crucial to promote food system transition and GNH plays an important role in it. During the last weeks Wednesday lunch at GNH, our group assisted in making sandwiches with local grown vegetables. Just as Ron’s achievement in food sustainability and security started with planting fruits and vegetables along the sidewalk, the benefits from eating what you grow can build up and positively impacts food system upgrades. Continuous improvements on local food systems is in line with our objectives and achievements in the past few weeks.

What, So What & Now What?


The project, thus far, has been both enjoyable and rewarding. However, there have been some challenges that arose. First, writing the proposal for our project was quite difficult. Upon starting the proposal we were still unclear with our project specifics which lead into a vague understanding of the proposal requirements from our group as a whole. The proposal guidelines made us feel that we had to change our perceptions of our project in order to receive an acceptable grade. It was a frustrating experience to feel confused about the proposal, and after attempting to clarify our issues, we were still left perplexed. The frustration, however, was always directed towards the project and never to each other. Luckily, our TA emailed us a few days later with some advice describing her expectations of our proposal. The advice gave us clarity and described certain what was expectations for both the proposal and our project. Now that the proposal is finally finished and handed in, each member in our group fully understands our project and, in addition, we are prepared to work together to accomplish the objectives that we have set out to do.

Another hiccup was the disorganization of our first GNH Wednesday lunch. The staff and volunteers had not been informed of our presence beforehand, even though two of our group members stopped by GNH the day prior to get acquainted with the kitchen and with proper setup procedures. We had to explain to the staff as to why we were attending this lunch and helping out in the kitchen. At first, they were not very responsive to our help, and needed detailed information regarding our tasks for that day. One of the staff members was almost reluctant to have us ask the community members to rate their meal. With some explanation, the staff and volunteers came around and it ended up being a very productive day. The community members quite enjoyed speaking to us and we enjoyed learning about them and brainstorming ideas that could improve the Wednesday lunches. We noticed that the Wednesday and Tuesday lunches differed quite a bit. On Wednesdays, there was less help and less community members that attended this lunch. The first Wednesday participating in this program as a whole group was a significant moment in our growth of the project; it allowed us to better understand the program and all the experience will help us in two weeks when we create and implement our own menu.


Photo credit: Ula Zhu

So What?

From both these experiences, we have realized that we are a very strong team who works well together. We expect complications to arise in execution of our project, but with the support and trust of one another we

will be able to overcome such obstacles. In addition, we believe our project at GNH can have a positive influence on their current food system. Watching the TED Talk from Ron, a gardener in LA, showed us how an individual’s behavior and actions could have a positive influence on the food system. Just like South Central LA, the West End of Vancouver has many liquor stores and fast food restaurants, which may be indirectly related to the high obesity rate and food insecurity. Accessibility to nutritious foods are crucial to promote food system transition and GNH plays an important role in doing so.

During the last week’s Wednesday lunch at GNH, our group assisted in making sandwiches with local grown vegetables from GNH Farm. Just as Ron’s achievement in food security started with planting fruits and vegetables along the sidewalk, the benefits from eating what you grow can build up and positively impact the food system (Finley, 2013). Our objectives and achievements are in line with the continuous improvements within the local food system.

Now What?

During our next visit, we will prepare a vegetable chili for GNH Wednesday lunch program in attempt to help increase food security by providing a nutritional and filling meal. According to Miewald & Ostry (2014), community food-based programs are particularly important in addressing food security issues among low-income populations, and meal programs can help community members to meet nutritional needs directly. In the case of GNH, the participants of the lunch

program are primarily elderly, who may not be able to prepare their own meals, are unable to afford to dine in a restaurant and have mobility issues which hinder food accessibility. We would like to improve their lunch experience and see our meal plan become a sustainable option for GNH in the future.


Photo credit: Ula Zhu

Upcoming Objectives & Strategies

Our upcoming objectives in the next two weeks are to:

  1. Learn about the qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods research methodologies;
  2. Learn about the case study methodology;
  3. Utilize the learned research methodologies into the next GNH community lunch gathering;
  4. Finalize our meal serving plan for the second GNH community lunch, which will happen on October 26th, 2016.

To achieve these objectives, some future steps will need to be taken. In our case, our project only utilizes qualitative data collection. The comment cards we created include a numerical rating scale and an open-ended feedback question, which was subjective and done through interviewing the community members. Our group members made observations and will improve our service for the next visit based on our data interpretation. The same research methodology will be applied into the next GNH Wednesday community lunch. In the following two weeks, we will finalize our meal serving plan for the second GNH community lunch, on October 26th, 2016. Specific tasks will be assigned to each group member prior to the visit to ensure efficiency in preparation, as well as for professionalism in the community. In addition, based on the feedback from community members, a light dessert may be included in our meal plan, upon approval of the program coordinator.

Next week, we will be visiting GNH again to cook and serve our second meal, which is a vegetarian chili with a seasonal green salad. Curious to find out how the community members like the chili? Visit our page in the next couple of weeks and find out about our experiences on our 2nd meal at GNH!




Finley, R., (2013, March). A Guerilla Gardener in South Central LA. Retrieved from: http://lfs350.landfood.ubc.ca/session-notes/term-1-session-notes/session-xx-flexible-learning-2-of-4/

Miewald, C., & Ostry, A. (2014). A warm meal and a bed: Intersections of housing and food security in vancouver’s downtown eastside. Housing Studies, 29(6), 709-729. doi:10.1080/02673037.2014.920769




Hello LFS 350!

Who are we?


Amber Searwar

Major: FNH

Interests: lifting weights, nutrition, and hiking

This past summer I worked as an Assistant Coordinator for the UBC Summer Science Program and I helped out with food planning. I thought that this would be a great way to learn more about preparing large scale meals and meal planning.


Leonardo Nawingga

Major: FNH

Interests: cooking, music, and food processing

I have been preparing meals for friends and family during past private events. By doing  this project I will be able to learn how to prepare meals for larger groups of people and improve my teamwork skills.


Gwendolyn Ge

Major: Food Science

Interests: advanced food technologies, traveling, reading and


I enjoy cooking and engaging with different cultures, and had volunteered as a recipe development specialist. My past experience in meal planning and enthusiasm in nutrition and community engagement are what motivates me to choose this project!


Ula Zhu

Major: Food Science

Interests: food processing, nutrition, and travel

I would love to make connection with the community through food and contribute what I learned from food science to the local community. I have experience in menu planning with a limited budget, and this is good chance for me to prepare meals for a big group, as well as o improve interpersonal skills.


Sabrina Feng

Major: FNH

Interests: social sustainability and health

The opportunity to be a part of the community while improving my cooking skills was one I couldn’t turn down! Gordon Neighbourhood House is such an amazing organization that really seeks to improve the lives of the community members. This is an organization that I would like to really give my time and effort. Cooking for such a large number of people will give me some insight on the task and how to be more efficient in the future.


Natalie Kunz

Major: FNH

Interests: nutrition, travel, fitness, yoga, the outdoors

I have just started to enjoy cooking, especially with others. This project is a great opportunity to further my skills in cooking and meal planning for a large group of people, while being able to engage with a new community. As well as, I have a great interest in nutrition and love to communicate my knowledge to others.

“We wish to inspire the community to value nutrition and sustainability”.

—-Group 16

But how can we accomplish that?  We are a group of six Land and Food Systems (LFS) students with a passion for nutrition, experiential learning, community-based learning, and practical meal planning. We wish to accomplish this goal through our LFS 350 class, which requires us to complete a community based project. We have all chosen to design a healthy and affordable meal for community members in the Gordon Neighbourhood House (GNH).

GNH was found in the last century by sisters of the Gordon family. In 1985, the current location at Broughton Street was opened (Gordon Neighbourhood House, 2016). It is a place-based community and the goal is to fulfill the needs and dreams of the community by supporting various programs (Gordon Neighbourhood House, 2016).  Welcome to our blog! We are a group of six Land and Food Systems (LFS) students with common interests in nutrition, experiential learning, community-based learning, and meal planning. For our LFS 350 project, we are going to be working with the Gordon Neighbourhood House (GNH) Pay-What-You-Can lunch. GNH is a warm and welcoming community house located in the West End of  Vancouver. It is part of the food security continuum providing relief for those who are food insecure and in return upgrades to the food system. Their operation is similar to other programs, such as food banks and soup kitchens. However, GNH does much more than feed those who are hungry; they also aim to improve people’s lives through education and networking opportunities for those who join. Not only do they provide meals they also provide a senior trip program, summer camps, a community lunch program, yoga, urban farming, and parties. We will be working directly with their Wednesday Pay-What-You-Can Lunch, which is a non-profit program aimed to provide a nutrient dense, diverse and inexpensive meal to the community and the volunteers. This program not only provides an inexpensive meal to nutritionally vulnerable individuals but also improves their food literacy and allows for them to enjoy a meal with others.


Why GNH: Pay-What-You-Can Lunch?

We have chosen this project for several reasons. As a group of students studying food science and nutrition, we all have a passion for food and cooking, as well as a mutual interest in healthy meal planning. Additionally,  applying our knowledge of human nutrition in a community setting is a practical skill to have. Some of us have firsthand experience designing large scale meal planning and recipe building on a budget. We see this project as a great opportunity to develop our interpersonal skills within the community, and to learn how to assist undernourished individuals. Helping provide the community members access to affordable, safe, culturally appropriate, ecologically responsible and nutritionally adequate food at all time is what motivated us most to engage with the GNH.




Our Goals

As a team we hope to create healthy, sustainable, and culturally appropriate meals for 35 people while being economical and socially acceptable. Through this, we wish to inspire the community to value nutrition and sustainability by looking at what aspects of GNH are working and expanding on that. We want to convey the idea of food security and let the community know that they are not gathering around the table just for food. They are also learning healthy eating habits, the value of nutrition, and how this is sustainable for their community. We hope to let the build on the community members’ insight on food literacy and the importance of the relationships that are built around food. After the two cooking sessions, we hope to not only build connections with the community but to also have our meal be chosen as one of the most popular dishes on the Wednesday lunch menu.


Photo credit: Amber Searwar


How can we learn from this experience?

By the end of this project, we are hoping to get hands-on experience in food preparation and meal planning in a community setting. We are excited to share our food ideas with people and turn these ideas into delicious dishes. It is also a great opportunity to observe and support a non-profit neighbourhood association like GNH, and see how they facilitate connections between community members, cater for food diversity, and achieve a healthy and sustainable food system.  


First Impressions

So far this project has had a few challenges while other aspects were a lot easier to handle. One of the things that we found difficult was to coordinate all of our busy schedules in order to meet for the orientation. With all of us in school and other activities, it is quite difficult to have a meeting where all of us are able to attend one designated time. Some aspects of this project that are working very well are our group’s communication skills, our professionalism and our passion towards this project. We seem to all believe in food justice. We know that food security is an ongoing process but we believe that it is necessary in order to improve the lives of the members in the community.


Applying Ideas of  Food Justice, Active Listening, and Asset-Based-Community-Development (ABCD)

In the GNH Pay-What-You-Can lunch program, every member of the community is invited to join and play an active role. The GNH is located in a neighborhood with more fast-food restaurants than local markets. Therefore, the Pay-What-You-Can program is unique since it can provide both wholesomeness and convenience. This program aims to promote food justice as it recognizes that every member of the community has a right to food, based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and all members of a community should have access to healthy and dignified food that attends to their needs and cultures (Gordon Neighbourhood House, 2016).

During meal planning, an asset-based view will be adapted by evaluating available resources in the community. As an outside associate, we must listen and think in the point of view of community members , as they are the centre of community development (Session 2 notes, 2016). By allowing the community members to choose how much to pay for their lunch, we are allowing them to have ownership of the lunch they are eating. In addition to planning and serving the food, we will also be communicating with people to better understand how we can help. After all, we cannot help anyone if we don’t know what they need help with!

A fundamental principle of ABCD is recognizing that relationships build community (Session 2 notes, 2016). Community lunches can act as a vehicle for community building. Our project helps to develop meaningful and engaging relationships among community members through dialogues and active listening while sharing fresh foods that are nutrient-dense, locally sourced and culturally appropriate. Throughout the process we will be evaluating our project to ensure a functioning program for its members. We will be focusing directly on the assets of the program in order to bring our strengths to the Pay-What-You-Can lunch.


Photo credit: Amber Searwar


Future Plan

Our group will plan, prepare and serve the lunch dishes for two sessions of the Pay-What-You-Can on Wednesdays at  GNH. Stay tuned for our updates & photos on the first community lunch planned and served by us, which will take place in the next couple of weeks!


“You shut up, you never arrive in the community with any ideas, and you sit with the local people, we don’t work from offices, we meet from the cafe, we meet at the pub…we become friends and we find out what that person wants to do…the most important thing is passion”

                                                                             – Ernesto Sirolli

Food is more than survival. With it we make friends, court lovers, and count our blessings.

—National Geographic, 2015


Gordon Neighbourhood House. (2016). Retrieved from:http://gordonhouse.org/about-gordon-neighbourhood-house/history/

Session 2 notes. (2016). Course: LFS 350/Week 02. Retrieved from http://wiki.ubc.ca/Course:LFS350/Week_02

Sirolli, E. (2012). Want to help someone? Shut up and listen! [Video file] Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chXsLtHqfdM