Sustenance Festival is an annual city-wide arts, culture and food festival with “local food- inspired workshops, talks, dances and more – all taking place in community centres and public spaces throughout Vancouver”. Sustenance has been supported by the Vancouver Park Board (Parks) Arts, Culture, and Engagement (ACE) Team and numerous community organizations since 2009. Over the years, however, Parks staff and community partners have observed and discussed the need for greater social and cultural inclusion in the local food movement and together with parks, are seeking to build on past successes engaging culturally diverse groups through Sustenance and strengthen it as a platform for cross-cultural connections and relationship building. Food is a universal need but also an exciting means of bringing people together. Approaches to this work include identifying barriers to participation, facilitating new project collaborations, and seeking out existing community food initiatives that have not been recognized as part of the mainstream food movement.
A key strategy for gathering this information is identifying and connecting with community leaders to hear their stories/insights/challenges/successes. This information will be used to determine how best to reduce barriers to participation in the Vancouver food system; to increase food-related initiatives at Park Board facilities and parks; and to connect programmers and staff to a stronger network of partners. This will also set the foundation for a collaborative, more inclusive approach to Sustenance in 2018 and onwards.