Wild Minds 2020

Pleased to have completed a very successful Wild Minds program this past summer with a group of 14 amazing youth, mostly from Britannia Secondary. Despite COVID, we were able to run the program with two groups of 7 youth each. The youth, all who face various systemic barriers in their lives, participated in this two week food and ecology program in Strathcona Community Gardens in partnership with the Environmental Youth Alliance . Wild Minds program focused on increasing local biodiversity while learning about ecology, native plant propagation, habitat restoration, pollinators, Indigenous knowledge systems, and food & medicinal plants. The youth developed meaningful connections to the land, while gaining valuable life skills.

Thank you to CLICK (Contributing to the Lives of Inner City Kids) for their funding support.

For more photos

Caring for each other during COVID-19 Podcast

Check out this podcast interview “Caring for each other during COVID-19” about the Grandview Woodland Food Connection COVID Emergency Food Delivery Program. We are in the last third segment. This interview nicely summarizes our program and the problem with the charity food sector. Community members should never have to ask for free food because they are hungry or lacking healthy food. While we are heartened to see the outpouring of support that we have received and all the food activists that have stepped up to help and we plan to keep the program running as long as possible (depending on funding) through COVID, we certainly do not want to institutionalize the program. We need systems change not charity.

Listen to the podcast “Caring for each other during COVID-19”

 

COVID 19 Emergency Food Delivery Update

We are now into the 5th month of our COVID Emergency Food Delivery Program, providing home food delivery 6 days a week to over 550 households in East Vancouver. To date, we have delivered 3000 food boxes. Thankfully, a number of households no longer need these food supports, however, we still receive new referrals weekly to support individuals and families experiencing hardship due to COVID. For this reason, we are planning to continue this program at least until Dec.
 
We are also proud to be providing high quality food hampers packed with lots of fruits and veggies and other healthy staples while minimizing all processed foods. We are especially happy to be sourcing some wonderful local and organic produce with summer upon us and are very grateful to the many businesses that have supported our food program either through donations or purchasing for us at cost. Here is where some of our food is coming from.
  • $4,000 worth of donated organic veggies from Fractal Farm
  • Roughly 14 crates weekly of organic veggies from the City of Vancouver Parks Board Sunset Nursery
  • Donated veggies and other food from theTrout Lake Farmers Market every two weeks
  • Fresh harvested greens from the Britannia School Garden
  • Fresh purchased fruits and veggies from Freshpoint wholesale
  • Purchased at cost and donated grains, legumes, beans, rice, and seeds from the Nut Hut
  • Purchased food staples at cost including canned salmon, tuna, and sardines, tomato sauce and pasta, peanut butter, milk, eggs, and olive oil from the East End Food Co-op
  • Food recovery donations from Choices Food Market, Van Whole, and Discovery Organics
  • Donated Bread from Livia, Rock, Rosemary Rock Salt, Panne Formaggio, and Cobbs
  • Greater Vancouver Foodbank donations of canned food, dry goods and other staples
  • Purchased and donated prepared meals from Eternal Abundance, Italian Cultural Centre, Vancouver Food Runners, and Save on Meats
  • Donations from Pasture 2 Plate, Havana Restaurant, Tyybeh Catering, Lotus Light, Acorn Restaurant, Liquids and Solids, Nature’s Path, and Cafe Justica.

Many community members have let us know how grateful they are for these food deliveries.

And while it is important that we are able to support households in this way and at this time, we have also stated our dislike of the food charity model.  What is clear to us is that people need the income supports, including affordable housing to purchase healthy food of their own choosing ….as is everyone’s right, no matter what their life situation. For this reason, we urge you to check out and support the 300 to Live campaign www.300tolive.org, which is calling on the BC Government to maintain the $300 monthly rate increase to income and disability assistance and further increase the rates to at least the poverty line.
Finally, a big thank you to all of you who supported our Gofundme campaign having raised over $30,000. And also a big thank you to Community Food Centres Canada, The Vancouver Foundation, VanCity, and United Way for their funding.
             

COVID Emergency Food Delivery Update – June 13/2020

Donate Here

The Grandview Woodland Food Connection / Britannia Community Centre COVID emergency food delivery continues 7 days week with the amazing support of 68 food activists who have now logged1100 hrs of communitysupport. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to all these helpers who have 
donated their free time and effort into this community based food effort. We are still looking for   more drivers if you know anyone who may have some time to share. Deliveries are throughout       East Van and generally take 2 - 3 hrs.

Talya is one of our star helpers who has logged 24 hrs doing bike deliveries around Commercial     Drive, down to Broadway and around the Strathcona area. Talya is super energetic and always        super keen to help out. In fact, she has dropped by on a couple of occasions  unannounced just to  check in if we need any quick deliveries made. But there are so many others like Talya who show   up with commitment and care.
Now into our 12th week, the need for food support continues. We have now delivered almost 1800 food boxes. While a number of people have let us know that they are doing okay now and are no    longer in need of food support, we still receive new referrals daily for families and individuals who are struggling through these times. Our concern is that with CERB possibly ending and an end to    school lunches for the summer, that we may see a spike in food need in July. Either way, we are      prepared to continue this food program into the fall though hopefullynot indefinitely as we             maintain strong concern that this kind of food support is not the solution to systemic poverty.         Emergency food delivery is not our mandate and we would prefer to get back to the capacity building community food security programming we were doing pre-covid. Ultimately, households need   adequate incomes and financial supports to purchase the food of their choice. It is that simple -       food insecurity is a condition of income insecurity, not to mention other systems of oppression,     highlighted through the on-going struggles of BIPOC communities.

Nevertheless, we will still work together with our community members and partner organizations   to ensure that community members are well supported during this COVID time. Funds are still        needed to ensure that we can continue to purchase healthy food. For this reason, we are very         grateful for all the community donations and while we have surpassed our initial expectations, the money raised through this fundraiser has been critical to providing us the necessary food budge
to ensure that our food boxes are filled with lots of good food and not just donated food. We are    also appreciative of the Nut Hut, East End Food Co-op and Choices Food Market who have been     assisting us with both donations and at-cost ordering of staples that keep our costs low. We are      typically purchasing eggs, milk, olive oil, nuts, seeds and grains, canned fish, pasta sauce and           bouillon, dairy free milk, nut butters, diapers, and more. Moreover, the feedback that we have        been receiving from individuals receiving this food has been very positive and appreciative.

For all the reasons above, we thank you again for all your support and care!

COVID 19 Emergency Food Distribution Program Update – May 12

Donate Here

As Vancouver went into shutdown to prevent the spread of COVID 19, the Grandview Woodland Food Connection in partnership with Britannia Community Centre immediately established a home food delivery program for those individuals and families in isolation and experiencing financial hardship. At the time, we were one of just a few such services in the city as many community centres, other social service agencies, and city systems grappled with the challenge of social distancing and lack of capacity to undertake a food delivery program.

We currently operate our emergency food delivery program 7 days a week and have helped support over 500 households with 1,180 food deliveries thus far. This work is exhaustive but critical for many community residents unable to get out and access food and/or experiencing additional financial hardship and job layoff. For these residents, this weekly food supports have significantly helped ease their worry about food access at this time.

While the province has eased social distancing restrictions which is welcome news for many people wanting to reconnect with friends and family, uncertainty remains as to how fast we can open up safely, especially for those individuals most at risk, including seniors, elders and others with pre-existing health concerns.

In the meantime, the financial fallout from this pandemic will be felt for some time. In response, we will continue to offer this essential food access service ensuring that our community members are not without healthy food for as long as needed.

The Power of Community

For better or for worse, this pandemic has changed everything and has exposed sever weaknesses in our institutions and systems, especially our food systems but it has also provided us a valuable opportunity to create a more sustainable, equitable and compassionate world. While COVID 19 has created hardship for many, it has also brought out the best in community and confirms our deeply held belief in the power of community in supporting our most vulnerable community members during this emergency.

This story really begins some 46 years ago when a community led effort envisioned and planned Britannia Community Centre as a full service delivery hub with a strong social development focus. To this day, Britannia provides a cradle (childcare) to grave (seniors) and everything in between programming including schools, library, recreation services along with many partners of which the Grandview Woodland Food Connection is one.  In fact, the Britannia model is quite unique in North America and through its nurturing of volunteer and community engagement, building of long-standing partnerships and collaborations, and committed community development work, we have very much strengthened the social fabric in our community.

The Grandview Woodland Food Connection was embraced by Britannia from our very beginnings and has allowed us to cultivate our skills and capacity to help build a more food secure community. As it turns out, this partnership and the strong relationships that we have built through the years with our community provides the foundation and resilience necessary to effectively respond to this pandemic.

Still, the reality that many people in our community are without proper access to food due to financial hardship is despicable in a society as wealthy as ours. As such, running an emergency food distribution program is not what we want to be doing. There is much work ahead and when this pandemic passes we will need to refocus our energy and work to effectively change those systems that result in poverty and marginalization in the first place.

Gratitude

Despite unanswered questions of where and how systems for food access supports should come, our community has responded with generosity and many community members, local businesses, and funders who have stepped up to support our efforts.

We especially want to thank the 300+ people who have donated to our gofundme campaign with funds used to purchase healthy food. You are proof that East Van cares and together we have lessoned the hardship for many households.

And a very special thank you to our funders and the many businesses that have donated and supported the East Van Cares Emergency Food Delivery. This pandemic has been especially hard on businesses and so we ask you to please support these and other local businesses that are so important in sustaining our local community economies.

 

     

 

 

 

 

 

             

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello from the Grandview Woodland Food Connection

We hope that you are all well and staying healthy during these COVID times.

Just thought that we should give you a bit of an update on what the Grandview Woodland Food Connection is doing these days. All our regular programming has been put on hold for the time being. In its place, we have shifted our resources to Emergency Food Delivery, working 7 days a week , delivering up to 30 nutritious food boxes to community members who are in isolation and experiencing some form of hardship. We have now delivered 481 food boxes and logged in 385 hrs of volunteer time

If you know of anyone who is in isolation and/or in need of food assistance, please have them call us at 604-718-5828.

At the local level, and in our community here in East Van, I have been so impressed with how people are really stepping up to help each other. Through networks, mutual aid groups, community organizing, volunteerism, and giving, the best aspects of community are certainly seen here in East Vancouver.

And I am proud to be working for a Vancouver Neighborhood Food Network and proud of the work that we have been doing over the years to build a stronger local food system. Much of this work has laid the foundation for an active and engaged local food movement better able to respond to this pandemic.

Having said this, I do not mean to suggest that everything is fine. This pandemic has caught many of us off guard and we have much to learn from this experience. In particular, the pandemic is exposing severe inequity as well as critical weaknesses in our food systems. The fact that so many in our own communities are in need of food and living pay cheque to pay cheque is evidence a broken system. For example today, a senior and her husband living in Burnaby called us out of desperation. They were referred to us by the seniors 211 help line. They are both elderly, in poor health and unable and unwilling to go outside. Traveling to a food bank is out of the question. They have no food in the house and they have been calling everyone for help without success, finally calling us for help. Though we really only deliver in East Vancouver, we have been driving further afield, and fortunately, we have a driver from Burnaby who will deliver food to this couple in the next few days.

In response, we are working hard to address this food access challenge and have essentially become a de-facto food bank, not something we ever wanted to become. But we are starting to get into a flow with more food coming in and more food going out. We are now ordering bulk dry goods through East End Food Co-op who are generously purchasing food for us at cost as well as some food through Choices Food Market. Several other restaurants and businesses are donating pre-made meals including Pasture to Plate, The Reef, Havana Restaurant, the Swiss Bakery, Liquids and Solids, and Taybeh Syrian Catering (some through customer donations). The Italian Cultural Centre will be donating 50 pre-cooked meals weekly for us. A number of other possible donations are in the works.

Then there are the over 200 donors who have been supporting our gofundme East Vancouver Cares fundraiser campaign t raise money to cover costs to purchase healthy food for our food hampers. Your support has been so greatly appreciated by those receiving the food boxes. This is the power of community.

And finally, a big thank you to all our volunteer food sorters and drivers who have been so dedicated and supportive. It makes me proud to be living in East Vancouver.

Information about health and COVID-19