The Beginnings

Welcome to our blog!


We are a group of UBC students from the Faculty of Land and Food Systems, working together with Ray-Cam Co-operative Centre to address the issues of Food Security in the Downtown Eastside Community.  

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Food Security is achieved “when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life” (FAO, 2006, p. 1).


The Ray-Cam 2018 Project: Farm2Family

The purpose of this project is to address Food Insecurity in the Downtown Eastside community by connecting children and families to fresh local food through a Farm2Family program. 

Our Goals:

Through this project, we hope to:

  1. Establish positive relationships with local farmers to develop long-term, mutually beneficial partnerships between Ray-Cam and potential farms.
  2. Further encourage farmers to donate excess and surplus food to supply fresh produce to the community centre by informing farmers about the BC Farmers’ Food Donation Corporate Income Tax Credit.

In addition to this, by connecting children and families to fresh local foods, we would like to contribute to creating community solutions that address food insecurity faced by low income residents. We would also like to take this opportunity to learn more about the Downtown Eastside Community and develop the necessary skills, such listening and understanding, to effectively contribute to strengthening and growth of the community.

Our Project Objectives:

Working alongside our community partner at Ray-Cam, the project objectives are:

  1. To create materials (brochure, phone+email script) for Ray-Cam to use when contacting farmers that explains the benefits of participating in the Farm2Family initiative and BC Farmers’ Food Donation Tax Incentives
  2. To establish a database with a list of local farmers that includes contact information, their willingness to donate, what produce would be available, delivery and pick up logistics of produce and any costs involved.


Why Farm2Family?

We all know that food is a basic necessity of life. However, healthy and nutritious food is not always available and accessible to everyone in Vancouver.  The reason why we chose to work with Ray-Cam Cooperative is because we want everyone, including low-income residents, to have access to high-quality food in a manner that maintains human dignity.

Many people in the Downtown Eastside do not have access to safe, nutritious food due to low-income, unemployment, and rising housing costs. Therefore, many are experiencing food insecurity. This results in the dependence of charitable foods which often fail to meet nutritional needs or lack quality and safety (Fink, 2010).

To address these issues, we believe that the Farm2Family initiative is meaningful as…

  • It allows access to fresh and nutritious produce that is often inadequately provided by food banks to low-income families.

Farm2Family focuses on establishing Food Security at a community level that “maximizes healthy choices, community self-reliance and equal access for everyone” (Bellows & Hamm, 2003, p. 107).

  • It directly connects local farmers with the local community.

Farm2Family encourages Food Justice by increasing community autonomy in preparing and eating healthy food (Just Food, 2018). 

By promoting access to fresh and nutritious produce, Farm2Family aims to support low-income families in overcoming the barriers that constrain food choices and promote food insecurity in the Downtown Eastside (Gottlieb and Joshi, 2010).

  • Farm2Family also redirects a waste stream to benefit both the local community and local farmers.

Unsold produce can be put to use rather than being disposed of. Redirecting healthy food from waste streams not only elevates food security by ensuring access to produce for more people, it also reduces or eliminates the costs associated with disposal. In providing farmers with tax benefits under the BC Farmers’ Food Donation Corporate Income Tax Credit, Farm2Family promotes mutually beneficial interactions between farmers and the local community.


More About Our Community Partner

Ray-Cam Co-operative Centre is located between the Strathcona Neighbourhood of Downtown Eastside and the Hastings Corridor. It was originally established in 1976 as a result of local residents desiring a safe environment for their children and a healthy and affordable access to food.

Now, Ray-Cam is a full-fledged community run service centre offering a variety of childcare programs, educational, recreational, and social activities for families and children, english classes for ESL adults and seniors, and computer labs and exercise rooms, among other things. All of these programs are provided to achieve their mission of empowering community members to use their gifts and strengths to improve life within their community. One of Ray-Cam’s main goals, in which we have to privilege to participate in, is to address food insecurity in their community.

More information can be found at .


Meet the Team!

Hi, my name is Adam Todd!

I’m a third year applied biology student majoring in Food and the Environment. I’m interested in urban farming, regeneration of soil health, and developing connections between local farms and community. I’m a life-long gardener and am passionate about growing food sustainably. I also have a background in community activism and social work. I chose this project because it is a unique opportunity to work with a community I care a lot about and to build a mutually beneficial relationship between this community and local farmers.


Hi, my name is Skylar Kylstra!

I am a third year student majoring in Global Resource Systems, concentrating in soil science and environmental management. I am obsessed with plants and have over 70 plants in my house, so come to me with your houseplant woes. I also love yoga, reading, and going to concerts.



Hi, my name is Yolanda Huo!

I’m a 4th year student majoring in Food, Nutrition and Health. I’m really into health and fitness, I enjoy cooking, baking, travelling and hiking and photography. I chose this project because I would like to learn more about and interact with the Downtown Eastside community as well as bring healthy and nutritious food to this community from farm to table. I hope I could help establish a positive relationship between local farm markets and the community to create a win-win solution where farmers can reduce their food wastes while everyone in the community can have access to fresh and healthy food.


Hi, my name is Ednelyn Pineda

I am a third year student, majoring in Nutritional Sciences. I am passionate about community and promoting a healthy active lifestyle. I love creating healthier alternatives for meals and desserts and exploring the diverse abundance of local whole foods. Through this, I hope to be able to share the importance of healthy eating while engaging in community. Lastly, I enjoy the outdoors and making each day an adventure!



Hi, my name is Angela Hwang!

I am a third year student majoring in Global Resource Systems program in the faculty of Land and Food Systems. Initially, I began with an interest in biology; however, LFS courses have shifted my interests to food nutrition and global health so I transferred in my second year. I am interested in food nutrition and its importance to food security. In my future, I would like to provide a solid contribution to the general health of community by creating a healthy, safe, and accessible food systems. I’m excited to gain some first hand experiences through this project and it would be very meaningful to be a part of groups working to make a difference in a community.   


Our First Impressions

We had our first orientation at UBC Learning Exchange where we were warmly welcomed to the Downtown Eastside (DTES) Community and met Carin, our community partner.

Coming from different backgrounds, many of us were unfamiliar about the DTES, and to our surprise, the community was more resilient, culturally dynamic, and open-minded than we thought. We learned that people of DTES have diverse cultural, social, and ethnic backgrounds, many of which are inspiring artists and creative entrepreneurs. These community members also have a strong sense of social justice who take activist initiatives. Many are demonstrating Food Justice as they fight for equity to ensure that everyone in the community has access to adequate healthy nutritious food.

For example, Ray-Cam Co-operative Centre demonstrates Food Justice through their Farm2Family initiative which seeks to provide access to fresh and nutritious produce to low income families. In our visit to the community centre, we were inspired by Ray-Cam’s dedication to encourage and support the strength and gifts of each community member. Through their individual and family support services, such as educational, recreation and social programs for seniors, children and youth, they create a safe and accepting environment for community members to make successful and fulfilling life choices.

From an Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) approach, we learned the importance of recognizing these traits, resources, strengths, and skills that have already developed within the community. By encouraging and strengthening these assets, internal dialogue and engagement between community members can be stimulated, allowing everyone to contribute to community development.

We also learned that the Farm2Family Project was initiated by the families within the Ray-Cam Community who desired fresh local produce for their children. This relates to Ernesto Sirolli’s TED Talk, as it displays how the community knows themselves the best. They know their needs and their strengths. Therefore, before focusing on the challenges the community faces, we first need to understand the historical, social, and political background of the community. In simpler terms, we need to engage the community, good listeners, and come with a servant’s heart.

With this new outlook, we now have a better understanding of how we can effectively address the Food Security issues of Downtown Eastside. We are excited to partner with Ray-Cam Co-operative Centre as we go on this pursuit of establishing a sustainable “Farm2Family” system for the Ray-Cam Community.


Bellows, A. C., & Hamm, M. W. (2003). International effects on and inspiration for community food security policies and practices in the USA. Critical Public Health, 13(2), 107-123. doi: 10.1080/0958159031000097652

Fink, T. (2010, February 17). Food-policy failures fan hunger and poverty. The Georgia Straight. Retrieved from

Gottlieb, R., & Joshi, A. (2010). Food Justice. Cambridge: The MIT Press. Retrieved February 7, 2018, from Project MUSE database: 

Just Food. (2018). What is Food Justice? Retrieved February 6, 2018 from:

Mathie, A., & Cunningham, G. (2003). From clients to citizens: Asset-based Community Development as a strategy for community-driven development. Development in Practice, 13(5), 474–486.

TED. (2013, November 26). Ernesto Sirolli: Want to help someone? Shut up and listen! [Video file]. Retrieved from

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