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.
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.