Arrivederci!

We have finally made it through our final weeks as a part of UBC LFS 350 Winter Term 2 Class and what a journey it has been! We’d like to share some of our thoughts as we reach the end of the project, as well as a summary of our final report. Enjoy, and thanks for following along!

Executive Summary

With this project our aim was to form a better idea of where and how community kitchens operate in Vancouver and more specifically in the assigned neighbourhoods of Shaughnessy and South Cambie. This information enables the City to better support the facilities, with the end goal of improving food security, specifically accessibility and utilization.

The objective of our specific study is to develop an asset inventory of the community kitchens operating within the Shaughnessy/South Cambie neighborhoods. The study is focused on three primary research questions:

  • What community kitchens exist in the Shaughnessy/South Cambie areas?
  • What assets, programs and operations do these kitchens have?
  • How can we use the assets to address food security issues in these neighbourhoods, particularly accessibility and utilization of the kitchens?

Answering these questions is essential to establishing how these kitchens positively affect their communities; whether it is by gathering the community to help others, having potluck dinners, or celebrating cultures and food.

The methods used in this study involved finding partners in the area primarily through online research. Partners were visited to conduct a standardized survey that included direct observation of the kitchen and information on the use of kitchen from a knowledgeable person.

Having only successfully surveyed two community kitchens, it is hard to draw conclusive results from our study. However, some highlight results are as follows:

  • The Shaughnessy/South Cambie neighbourhoods contain few kitchen facilities for use by the community
  • Those present tend to be part of a larger religious organization, such as a church or synagogue
  • The kitchens are well equipped, containing most if not all of the equipment and facilities mentioned in the survey
  • Use of the kitchens is available to people in the organization who will follow certain guidelines provided by the kitchen, or in cases available to the general public for a rental fee
  • Kitchens are used to bring the communities of these organizations together, often celebrating holidays or special occasions, and as a means of valuing the community culture

Based on these results, we recommend continued research into the kitchen facilities of the Shaughnessy/South Cambie neighbourhoods in order to gain a fuller understanding of available kitchens. These kitchens would also benefit from assigned staff that could develop more programs for the kitchens, both within the organization’s community and possibly including the greater neighbourhood community.

 

Reflections:

“What”

We definitely had many ups and downs throughout this term, but we survived through it! We started off with our initial goal of reaching out to 5-6 different community kitchens in our area of Shaugnessy and South Cambie, while we only ended up in contacting 2 different places we still feel as if we were able to complete our goal and are happy with our results. The most significant difficulty we faced was finding kitchens in the area. Without any found kitchens, we wouldn’t be able to start our project. After spending most of the semester failing to find kitchens, even small steps such as finding places and getting to talk to them over the phone were big achievements to us. In early March, we decided to shift strategies and use one of our Flexible Learning days to actually go out and visit kitchens rather than keep attempting contact by phone and email. This was a big change for us, and proved to be very important.

“So What?”

By going in person rather than email, we took advantage of face-to-face communication, which allowed us to introduce ourselves as UBC students and explain why we had come by. This made for a better connection between ourselves and our partners. We also found that changing the wording from “community kitchen” to just “kitchen facility” made a big difference. Both of the locations we surveyed didn’t identify themselves as “community kitchens” because they aren’t open to the public. However, we were glad when they welcomely took us to their kitchen and explained all they knew. We simply told them we were interested in learning about how the kitchen is used for an upcoming research paper.  The word “paper” made them more willing to help. As our procedure went smoothly after, we realized the power of words. We were able to make them feel more comfortable and more willing to share information once “community” was taken out. Communicating face-to-face made it easier for us to collect data, as we were given better chance at securing an interview on site in person.

“Now What?”

Changing our method of approaching potential community partners was an important step for our group. It allowed us to move forward in our project when we hit a roadblock of having no responses from any kitchens. We started our project being very positive and hopeful, expecting everything to go smoothly. We did not think we would have to change our approach so drastically. Reaching out to the teaching team helped us find a better method of approaching these community kitchens. Once we changed our method of data collection from sending out emails to physically going to some facilities in South Cambie and Shaughnessy, we started getting motivated as we got positive outcomes. Dropping by some community facilities allowed us to finally get responses and data to contribute to our project. Framing our approach to something more casual was an important change for our group. It allowed those who welcomed us at their facility to be more open and understanding – letting us in on insider information and happily participating in the survey.

Our final stage involved effectively wrapping up our written report by using strategies we learnt in class and following along guides Harper Adam’s University in the UK, which we found had great tips/tricks to writing a concise and informative, yet engaging enough for public eyes !

Challenges with this project taught us the importance of being able to quickly shift gears and adapt our approaches to generate a more possible outcome. By having to do this project, we were able to learn an exponential amount on the importance of patience and active listening, especially during the breakout session when other groups were sharing their experiences with us. As a closing word, although we had some rough patches, our group had a great time working on this project together. Getting together and going to the kitchens brought us closer as a group. We would like to thank the teaching team of LFS 350 for all their support and constant motivation and helping us see the light at the end of the tunnel when it seemed impossible. We would also like to express our gratitude to our community partners who agreed to participate in our study.

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