Getting Started: Intro and Defining Objectives


Brianne: I’m a 4th year dietetics student. My interests include all things food, as well as getting active, travelling, and spending time with friends and family. I’m looking forward to impacting the accessibility aspect of food security while engaging with the community in this project!

Shelby: I’m also in my fourth year of the dietetics major.  My major interests are food and cooking, as well as long-distance running.  I recently took a course on HIV Care and Prevention, which involved community placements in the Downtown Eastside, including some meal program services.  As a result of this experience, I realized that food is a great way to bring people together, and to facilitate access to other services for individuals who may be falling through the cracks of our society.  I’m looking forward to contributing to this project!

Cara: I’m a student in my third year of studying Food, Nutrition and Health. I’m quite an active person, and spend my time hiking, rock climbing, swimming, or doing gymnastics. I also love to travel, and part of that (as a student) means staying in hostels, where mealtime is often a collaborative, community event, similar to the meals and events accessible through the Vancouver Food Asset Map. I really enjoy how food brings people together, so I am excited to be working on a tool that could facilitate these kinds of interactions.

Sally: I am a third year Nutritional Science student. I love playing table tennis and cooking different food. Over the past year, I built a close tie with Richmond food bank, doing the nutrition demo using a nutrition demonstrations to increase the number of conversations around food and nutritional knowledge. From there, I also learnt how to work as a group to help local people to achieve what they want.

Meng Meng: Hello, I am currently in third year of Food, Nutrition and Health major. I have loved all kinds of plants and animals since I was a child, and I always enjoy gardening and planting during my spare time. I am more of a stay-home person, but I really want to and am doing my best to live a healthy and active life. I personally love cooking (even though the result doesn’t turn out so nicely), but I love how cooking let you to be creative, how it makes you enjoy more about life, how it brings the family and friends together.

Titania: 4th year, in FNH major; interests include science, research, observing, and experimental designs.



Vancouver Food Asset Map: Free or Low-Cost Meals

The common interests and goals of this group involve establishing a better understanding of food-security related challenges faced by local communities, as well as facilitating the skill development necessary to address these challenges. The project we are working on involves improving the Vancouver Food Asset Map (VFAM) by locating vendors providing free or low-cost meals, and inputting the specific information into the database. This project was selected due to its diversity and flexibility.

The VFAM was originally developed by public servants of Vancouver Coastal Health, and consists of initiatives to track affordable, safe, nutritious, and culturally/traditionally suitable edible goods offered by various providers. These include food banks, schools, community centres, non-profit organizations, farms, and local independent markets. Both a visual map detailing the locations (on Google) and an Excel database have previously been created for these purposes.

The main goals of this project involve the creation of a tool to community members and the general public to access food assets which is easily navigable and user-friendly, as well as to improve the quality of life of individuals and families facing food insecurity. In addition, the successful update of the VFAM will allow community partners to have better access to food asset information, which will encourage strategic utilization of these resources, as well as future improvement and expansion.

As a group, through this project we wish to acquire greater knowledge regarding the current food assets available in Vancouver. We also wish to become engaged with the local community, making meaningful and important contributions, as well as consider the issues at hand in a global context to encourage critical thinking. We hope to to improve the usability and user experiences of the VFAM, by maintaining a level of service suitable for the intended audience, as well as by strengthening food security initiatives in Vancouver by identifying where potential gaps exist. Lastly, we would like to use this as a learning experience to provide a hands-on perspective and an applicable, first-hand view of what we are learning in LFS 350.

Identifying the low-cost and free food services that are available in the community and making them more accessible requires ‘changing the lens’ with which we look at food justice issues. Rather than focusing on the lack of food resources, or proportion of individuals with poor food security, we must focus on the existing community resources – and this is an essential key concept in asset-based community development.  By engaging the community to identify organizations and partners who are interested, we are employing the theory of asset-based community development to improve food accessibility for individuals.

In Ernesto Sirolli’s TED Talk, he advises taking direction from our community partner and members of the communities directly, as they know best what will work in their setting/community. He also emphasizes the importance of taking a fresh perspective to existing assets, so they can be used in the most efficient way possible – and that the way to identify or redirect these assets and resources is by integrating oneself into the mindset of the community. These tips will prove to be useful in beginning our project and ensuring we take a considerate, ethically appropriate approach.


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