“The beginning is the most important part of the work” (Plato)
So, here we were the six of us…coming together to build something new. We didn’t know each other…strengths, skills, interests…but we did know that we all have something in common…commitment to our chosen project. On that first day, we tried to learn each other’s names, agree on a plan and assign roles. Some of us were quieter, others more talkative but we knew we all were part of a team and each of us brought unique qualities so we started as we meant to go on, appreciating our assets and solving the puzzle of how we could fit together, working as a cohesive team to benefit our chosen community of Richmond.
So, who are we?
3rd year student, majoring in Food Science and Nutritional Science
I enjoy cooking, exploring healthy and low price food, outdoor activities etc. I try to cook most of meals by myself in a healthy way and choose healthy ingredients. I have a passion for sharing homemade dessert and recipes.
3rd year student, majoring in Food Nutrition and Health
Growing up in the urban cities has increased the distance between myself and the agricultural world. The world continues to increase its interest in health and nutrition, and the key factor, food, cannot be left out. As a result, I chose Food, Nutrition, and Health as my major.
Yue (Sherry) Qin
3rd year student, majoring in Food Market Analysis
In terms of sports, I enjoy dancing and swimming. In terms of food, I obsess about meat and spicy flavor, and salmon avocado roll is my life.
3rd year student, majoring in Food Nutrition and Health
I love to be active, enjoying road cycling, running, hiking. As a long time vegetarian, I have always been interested in understanding the reasons people choose the foods they do, and the many roles of food in our society and relationships.
Ting-Wei (Kelly) Huang
3rd year student, majoring in Nutritional Sciences
My interests are badminton, sketching, painting, and cooking. I enjoy cooking at home and eating together with my family. Being able to provide my family health and delicious food makes me happy.
3rd year student, majoring in Food Science
I am a foodie. I enjoy exploring the city and trying new food.
Why did we choose this project?
We all had different reasons for choosing to begin the Richmond Food Asset Map. Some of us were hoping to provide an informative and useful tool for the community and others were interested in Richmond, in particular.
Food asset maps are relatively new. Their aim is to provide a “current, easy to use and easily updated” tool that will help “build…support for community members dealing with food security” (Romses et al, 2017). Vancouver has led the way in BC and recent community feedback indicated that 86% of people who had tried the map had found it easy to use and 78% said that they would use it in the future. We hope that through this project, we will have a better understanding of the available food assets in Richmond and use our knowledge to create a map that improves food accessibility, especially for lower income community members. We believe that building the map, starting with the locations and information on free/low cost meals will allow community organizations to provide current information to their clients and direct them towards better meal choices at an affordable cost.
Richmond is a diverse community with over 70% of its population considered a visible minority ( the highest of any municipality on BC). Those identifying as Chinese represent 47% of that number while South Asian and Filipino represent 8% and 7% respectively (Statistics Canada 2016). According to FAO, every person should have “access to …nutritious food that meet …food preferences” (Rome Declaration, 1996). We are interested in Richmond as a community that presents unique challenges in ensuring that members has nutritious and culturally appropriate food. One of our group members, San, currently lives in Richmond would like to discover how accessible food is there, from an objective perspective.
While Richmond is famous for its plentiful food options and restaurants, we wondered how accessible those choices were to the whole community, especially those who are food insecure. The cost of living in Vancouver is acknowledged to be high and healthy food options are no exception to this. So, while food unites us in that we need to survive and it often plays a central role in social and cultural activities, it can also divide is into the “haves and the”have nots”.
Richmond Food Bank feeds over 2200 people in a typical week, 32% of whom are children ( Richmond Food Bank Bank, 2017). We felt it was important to use this opportunity of asset- mapping to improve the health and wellbeing of community members through improved access to affordable, culturally appropriate nutritious food.
So what are our goals?
In the short term, we hope to better understand the wide variety of food assets in Richmond, using our knowledge to contribute to a new, easy to use mapping tool that can help individuals and community organizations to improve their accessibility to free and low cost foods. In addition, we are optimistic that the reciprocal sharing of knowledge and information with several community organizations will lead to feedback that will help us evaluate the new map. In the longer term, we hope that our part in the project will provide a wider variety of culturally appropriate, nutritious food choices, especially for those on a lower income, thus improving the health of the Richmond community.
What are the objectives of our project?
- To create a current and user friendly tool for the local community members in Richmond for locating community food assets.
To decrease food insecurity by building capacity and support food access.
- To make it easier for Richmond community partners to view and advocate for community food assets strategically.
In collaboration with the Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Network, the City of Vancouver, Fresh Roots and UBC Land and Food System students and instructors, public health dietitians in the Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) have created the Richmond Food Asset Map project. Our role in the project is to gather updated and comprehensive information about the following food assets across the city of Richmond : free/subsidized/low cost grocery items; free/low cost meals.
Our Community Partners
The VCH public health dieticians are a group of Registered dieticians who work for VCH. VCH is a government branch that provides provincial health services for British Columbia. The work of the VCH public dieticians not only includes promoting healthy eating and active living in the province, but also engaging in community projects that improves food security.
The Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks (NFN) is platform for community members, organizations and government agencies to work together on community-based projects that focus on food justice and resilience. It supports and promotes farming locally, food security and food system education.
The Fresh Roots is a non-profit organization that works to improve food security in communities. The organization has dedicated its work on the creation of schoolyard market and educational farm in schools and communities. Its work emphasizes on engagement and empowerment of youth through improving the relationship between teens and local food system. Additionally, the Fresh Roots collaborates with other community organizations to help improve accessibility of food and initiate positive changes in the current food system.
The City of Vancouver, as a municipal government constantly measures the state of its local food system through tracking the number of farmers markets, community food markets, food trees, and community gardens. This useful dataset obtained by the City of Vancouver is included in the Vancouver Food Asset Map. Moreover, the City of Vancouver releases the Food Asset Map on its official website, so that the map is more accessible to all members in the community.
Our second face to face meeting took place in Richmond,with Anne Swann and Rani Wangsawidjaya, two VCH dietitians who talked us through the specifics of our project.
It was clear immediately that we were at the start of a process. We are the one of the first two groups to develop a new tool in Richmond, the food asset map. We are part of a much bigger project, an ambitious goal, to create a food asset map for the whole of Vancouver Coastal Health. The city of Vancouver has lead the way and other communities, such as the North Shore and the Sea to Sky corridor have mapping projects underway. It was exciting to know that we would set the tone for the Richmond map. In truth, we are developing a tool without knowing exactly who will use it and and how it will be used. The principle of the Asset-based Community Development (ABCD) is that through recognition of strengths and assets of a community, positive action for change is inspired. In the case of the Richmond Food Asset Map project, in addition to improving food accessibility, the development of the Richmond Food Asset Map aims to allow the community to recognize its food asset and improve or adjust on already-existing assets, as needed. The development of a community project is similar to building a business. As Ernesto Sirolli mentions in his TED talk, “there’s only one thing that all the successful companies in the world have in common, only one. None were started by one person.” (Sirolli, 2012) The collaboration of different community organizations, members and government agencies is essential for the development of this community project, since each partner contributes its own unique knowledge and experience to the project.
We were told a little about Richmond’s demographics such as the fact that, on average, this community eats fewer than average servings of fruits and vegetables and has a higher child poverty rate (25%) than BC as a whole. As Ernesto Sirolli pointed out in his TED talk, finding out about community’s history, and knowing about the community is an important part of the process. Anne explained that the statistics reflected pockets in the community that were perhaps not be as well served as they might be.Patricia Allen, in her discussion of justice in the food system noted that since food affects everyone, it is an excellent vehicle to use in striving for equality and social justice. (Allen, 2003). We hope that we can help community organisations to access to food in Richmond so it is more equitably distributed.
Mahtie and Cunningham (2003) discussed “bonding and bridging social capital” . In our project, many resources already exist and it is our job to bridge the gap between those in the community and the resources, and between different community organizations. Mathie and Cunningham (2003) suggested in their paper on asset-based community development that “communities are helped to build an inventory of their assets”. We will be doing that. Quite literally.
Our role is to facilitate the use of resources that already exist by developing a user friendly map. In bridging social capital, we discussed different method of communication and how to seek out new information. We were told that often word of mouth is best where we can link different people and organisations in the community for the benefit of all. Everyone in the process and the community has a valuable and important contribution : information, resources, skills, and feedback
We left with a better understanding of what we would like to achieve, aware that uncertainty was in our future and we would need to learn and adapt.
“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much” (Helen Keller).
Allen, P. (2008). Mining for justice in the food system: perceptions, practices, and possibilities. Agriculture and Human Values, 25(2), 157-161. doi:10.1007/s10460-008-9120-6
Canada, G. O. (2016, November 23). NHS Profile, 2011. Retrieved September 29, 2017, from http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/nhs-enm/2011/dp-pd/prof/index.cfm?Lang=E
Keller, H. (2016). THE STORY OF MY LIFE. Place of publication not identified: Publisher not identified.
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. doi:10.1080/0961452032000125857
Most Needed Items. (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2017, from http://richmondfoodbank.org/
Rome Declaration on World Food Security. (n.d.). Retrieved September 29, 2017, from http://www.fao.org/docrep/003/w3613e/w3613e00.HTM
Romses, K., Stephens, T., & Tran, R. (2017). Vancouver Food Asset Map helps users find food easily. Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice & Research, 78(3), 163.
Sirolli, E. (2012.). Want to help someone? Shut up and listen! Retrieved September 29, 2017, from https://www.ted.com/talks/ernesto_sirolli_want_to_help_someone_shut_up_and_listen
The Republic Book 1. 337-B