East Van COVID 19 Emergency Food Distribution Fundraiser

GoFundme

Due to  COVID-19, many community residents in East Vancouver are struggling. Many are in isolation with compromised immune systems and unable to get out to purchase food. Others are experiencing work layoffs or other financial hardship and suddenly in need of extra food supports.

As community resources shut down, Grandview WoodlandFood Connection at Britannia Community Centre continues to stay open. We are receiving multiple emails daily from community residents asking for food supports. In response, the Grandview Woodland Food Connection has established an emergency food centre and is working hard to ensure that all community members have access to healthy food at this particular time. We currently have a team of volunteers doing food delivery to seniors and other vulnerable community members and expect a growing need as the pandemic worsens.

At this time, we are seeking funds with all revenues used to purchase healthy food, provide gas, and cover other costs associated with delivering food to our community. Most importantly, we want to ensure that our efforts are helping to provide nutritious foods that support optimal health, especially for people with existing health conditions.

We know East Van has heart and understands the importance of community and mutual support! Please donate and help keep East Van food healthy!

Thank you,
Grandview Woodland Food Connection

Thank You Choices Food Market and Patrons

A big shout out to patrons of Choices Food Market for their generous donation to the Britannia Food Programs and the Grandview Woodland Food Connection as part of their Xmas Star of the Season store fundraiser.

Also, thank you Choices for their wonderful food hampers full of quality food that were distributed to 25 Grandview Woodland families over Xmas. The food was very much appreciated.

Efforts like these help relieve some of the pressure on households struggling to make ends meet. Particularly with the high cost of rents and other necessities of life, often little money is left to pay for quality food. Many participants in the Grandview Woodland Food Connection are working, but still not making enough. In response we need livable wages, affordable housing, significant increases to income assistance rates and much more to realistically pull people out of poverty. A “living wage” in Vancouver is close to $20/hr. However many people in our city earn far less. Low wages in Vancouver are compounded by the fact that Vancouver is a very expensive city to live in. So while we work to ease food insecurity, we must also be working to advocate for policy change and improved income and other supports.

Coalition for Healthy School Food

The Grandview Woodland Food Connection is pleased to be a member of the Coalition for Healthy School Food BC. Universal food programs are a strong Health Promotion focus with many benefits for children

The CHSF is seeking an investment by the federal government in a cost-shared, healthy Universal School Food Program that will enable all students in Canada to have access to healthy meals at school every day. In addition to federal investment, the BC-CHSF is seeking an investment by provincial and local governments of British Columbia in a cost-shared, healthy Universal School Food Program. Building on existing programs across the country, our vision is for all schools to serve a healthy meal or snack at little or no cost to students and families. These programs should include food education and serve culturally appropriate, local, sustainable food to the fullest extent possible.

Budget 2020

The Government of Canada is now seeking input for Budget 2020. As their website says: Take our surveys and share your ideas for Budget 2020. Send us an email. Have a big idea, or more to say? Share it with us by email and add your voice to #YourBudget. The deadline for submissions is Friday February 21, 2020.
This gives the Coalition for Healthy School Food a great opportunity to let the government know about our BIG IDEA, that is PRACTICAL and NEEDED, and that we want them to include funding for a universal healthy school food program in Budget 2020.  Please join the Coalition for Healthy School Food in building mass support for a universal, cost-shared, healthy school food program:
  1. Send an Email to budget2020@canada.ca
SUBJECT: School food needs to be in Budget 2020
Here is a draft email (also pasted in below) for you to adapt as you like and send to the Finance Committee. The goal is to build massive support to make the undeniable case to the Government of Canada to include a national school food program in Budget 2020.
  1. Spread the work via social media.
Help us amplify the message across social media! We need the government to understand that communities across Canada support a national school food program. Spread the word with your networks by copying and pasting the messages here (also pasted in below).
  1. Complete the Survey for #YourBudget
Feeling really keen? The government has also invited Canadians to give their opinion on topics such as poverty, environment, health and reconciliation. Take their survey here and let them know that a school food program is vital to the wellbeing of children. We will be preparing and sending you a guide to filling out the survey within the next few days if you’d like additional guidance on what to write in support of a school food program.
Hope you can participate in the Budget 2020 process to send a powerful message to Ottawa, and we hope that you can join us for our February 18th Coalition meeting.
4. Spread the work via Social Media
Help us amplify the message across social media! We need the government to understand that communities across Canada support a national school food program. Spread the word with your networks by copying and pasting the messages below:
TWITTER
  • Dear @FinanceCanada, it’s time to #NourishKidsNow and put money in the 2020 Budget for a cost-shared, universal healthy school food program! #YourBudget
  • Dear @FinanceCanada, thousands of Canadians want to see a cost-shared, universal healthy school food program, so that kids have the food they need to do their best. It’s time to #NourishKidsNow! #YourBudget
  • Dear @FinanceCanada, as a mother/father/aunt/uncle/grandparent, I believe that every child in Canada should have access to healthy food while at school. It’s time to #NourishKidsNow and add a school food program to the budget! #YourBudget
FACEBOOK
The federal @FinCanadaLiveEnDirect wants to hear from Canadians what they want in the 2020 Budget. We think it’s time to fund a universal healthy school food program, so that kids have the food they need to do their best at school.
_____________________________________________________________
(Draft email)
My name is [NAME] and my organization, [ORGANIZATION], is a member of the Coalition for Healthy School Food. I am writing in response to the pre-budget consultation process, and I want to show my support for including a national school food program in the 2020 Budget, an initiative that invests in the health and wellbeing of children across Canada.
Such a program would ensure that children across Canada are nourished so that they can do their best at school and build skills to lead healthy lives. An investment by the federal government in a cost-shared Universal Healthy School Food Program would build on existing programs across the country and amplify their impact.
While such a program was named in the 2019 Budget, now is the time to finally fund and  implement this vital program, which would enable all students in Canada to have access to healthy meals.
I join Canadians from every province and territory in the call for a national school food program, and hope that the Government of Canada will include it in the 2020 Budget.
Sincerely,
[NAME]
[RIDING]

Grandview Woodland Food Connection 2019 Highlights

An enormous thank you to all who have supported the Grandview Woodland Food Connection (GWFC) or who have volunteered and participated in our programs this past year. We have achieved much and continue to work hard to build a just and equitable food system for all in our community.

2019 was indeed a challenging year with the heartbreaking reality of the climate crisis setting in. Global food security is very much at risk and will impact the local cost and availability of food, especially for those who can least afford it. Indeed we have our work cut out for us as we must fully begin to make the shift to a sustainable future in the decade. Here at the GWFC, we are putting more thought into what a more integrated and equitable food system might look like at the community level, with a focus on improved healthy food access. This challenges us to always look beyond our organization for opportunities to collaborate with others in new ways to help close the food access gap, work to build community and ensure that we are supporting ecologically sustainable food systems locally and globally.

The GWFC has also undertaken a strategic planning process this past year and has determined that our own organizational challenges require some immediate work if we are to attain a more sustainable footing into the future. Our current work load and capacity is no longer viable given the ever present food security issues and needs

in our community. In part, we need to find new sources of funding to hire additional staffing. My first wish for the GWFC in 2020 is to secure part time funding to hire a school garden programmer to assume responsibility for this important food program. To this end, I am appealing for any support or ideas to help us achieve this rst goal.

While our challenges remain significant, we also enjoyed a very full and successful year. Every day brings new ideas and the many personal connections that we make on a daily basis confirm both the importance and the enjoyment that this work brings to me personally. Here are our top highlights for 2019,

Ian Marcuse, Coordinator for the Grandview Woodland Food Connection

1. Our Place Food Strategy

45885825_185316079071998_6497425344272793600_oThe GWFC, together with a number of local agencies involved in food programming, is pleased to be supporting a community based food strategy that is foremost place-based and collaborative. Working beyond our individual agencies, and through a greater sharing of resources and skills we strive to apply a collective impact approach to improving food access for all in the Vancouver inner city. We are presently engaged in a baseline needs assessment to best determine challenges and opportunities.

2. Wild Minds

48384762811_ce52c90bf9_oThis summer garden program was a wonderful collaboration with the Environmental Youth Alliance providing hands-on food growing and ecology education for Britannia students in the beautiful Strathcona and Cottonwood Community Gardens. 13 amazing youth participated this year and learned about pollinators, native plants and soils, birds, seed-saving, composting and mulching, permaculture, animal habitat, garden maintenance, herbs and medicinals, and fruit growing, to name a few.

Wild Minds Report 
Wild Minds Photos

3. Sustenance Festival Sharing Food Sharing Culture

The GWFC along with Flavours of Hope held an enjoyable cross cultural food sharing event as part of the Sustenance Festival. We were joined by three amazing newcomer women – from the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela who each shared some of their favorite recipes and food stories. A full house, including a rich diversity of community members joined in the preparation of the food, followed by tasting the delicious food and story sharing.

Sustenance Photos

4. Bulk Buy Food Program

Now into our 10th year, the bulk food fruit and veggie wholesale purchasing program now bene ts 79 households saving them hundreds of dollars annually in food costs. With additional food donations from Choices Food Market, Discovery Organics and the Vancouver FoodBank, program participants receive a very large amount of quality food.

Bulk Buy Photos

5. Corn Festival

We always look forward to the Corn Festival, now a favorite tradition at Britannia and
a unigue taste of Latin America in East Vancouver during corn harvest time. Tasty food including pupusas, tamales, empanadas and tacos, celebrating the importance of corn to Latin Amercian people and culture is dished up with lively music, song and dance.

Corn Festival Photos

6. FoodFit

We are now in our second year for FoodFit as
part of a two year funding from the Community Food Centres of Canada and a partnership with Reach Community Health Centre. 55 Individuals have participated in this 13 week healthy living program with its mix of healthy activity and healthy food preparation and cooking. Participants are reporting feeling healthier and positive well-being as a result of the program.

FoodFit Photos

7. Fractal Farm Partnership

Fractal Farm is a local grower of sustainable vegetables based in East Vancouver and Richmond. They partnered with Britannia and the GWFC where Britannia provided Fractal Farm space to set up their Community Supported Agriculture program. In return, Fractal Farm donated $2,737 worth of high quality organic vegetables that supported our seniors and elder food programs.

Fractal Farm Photos

9. Grandview Woodland Community Seed Library

The Seed Library has been a success with 161 indivduals who have now received 436 packets of free seeds. Look out for the pop-up Seed Library monthly throughout the growing season in the Britannia library and at special events. A huge shout out to Christine Mak, our awesome volunteer who has been managing the library since its start.

Seed Library Photos

8. Farm 2 School Summer Student Program

We were thrilled to partner with Farm 2 School and Fresh Roots this past summer in the hiring of three summer students to help us water and maintain our Britannia School garden over the summer period. These summer students worked at 8 schools in East Vancouver rotating through each school daily. The extra help was very much needed and allowed us to help maintain the gardens, especially watering during the dry periods, ensuring that we had fresh veggies growing for the school upon return in the fall.

Farm 2 School Photos

10. Food Skills Workshops

32414211847_3d56c88ff8_oThe GWFC ran more food workshops and had more participants than ever, making this our best year to date. We organized a total of 12 workshops with 140 people partcipating. The workshops received high praise and included everything from fermentation to vegan cooking and Latin American to Syrian cuisine.

Food Skills Photos

11. Britannia School Garden

Our largest and most enjoyable program always is our school garden program which is all about connecting youth to the land and the source of healthy eating. Sure, for most children and teens, gardening is not foremost on their minds, but in the garden they are curious and eager to work. Many really connect to the garden and the tangible hands-on activities. This past year we worked with 5 classes and approximately 100 students in partnership with the Society for Environmental Conservation (SPEC)

School Garden Photos

12. Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks

The GWFC is proud to be an active member of the Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks bringing leadership and a strong voice to the food network movement in Vancouver. This year, for the rst time, we we produced our collective impact report aggregating the work of all 15 networks in Vancouver and which provides crucial data on food access and services city-wide.

Read the Full Impact Report

FoodFit Xmas Alumni Gathering

The FoodFit program provides a supportive environment for grads of the FoodFit program to stay  connected though bi-monthly cooking groups. This past week, we had an AMAZING turn out for the 2019 holiday Alumni meet-up - 15 people attended some from  the very early Foodfit grads. Big     numbers don’t suit everyone as it can be an overwhelming but we were fortunate to have the big   pre-teen room to accommodate. We shared stories of family holidays and feasting. 

We made 3 take home giftable items and have two in our back-pocket as fun holiday activities to      try at home.  We got to make and enjoy one of the giftable items in a gorgeous pot of split yellow  pea, red & green lentil, barley and brown rice soup sautéed up with a mirepoix  veg mix and added diced peppers served with whole grain buns, rice crackers and fruit. We made  oat flour! You heard right- we made oat flour for a nut-butter-free bliss ball with coconut chocolate chips and maple       syrup. Then we did a cocoa intense nut butter bliss ball with peanut butter maple syrup and dates. After doubling the recipes we had enough for even ‘the nibblers’ to have enough to actually give some away as the intended gifts of the holiday session.

Big thank you to the Community Food Centers Canada for their funding of this program





Intersecting Food, Culture, and Community

Written by Rebecca Suen

On the afternoon of October 19th, I attended the event “Sharing Food, Sharing Culture” as a part of Sustenance Festival. Held in the Canucks Family Education Centre, this event was organized by Grandview Woodland Food Connection and Flavours of Hope, a non-profit organization that aims to empower and socially/culturally integrate immigrant women through cooking and sharing food.

Photo by Rebecca Suen

 

The aim of the event was to promote intersectionality with food, namely between social justice, gender, race, and identity. By looking at food with a decolonization approach, participants would slowly be able to take back the food system by growing and cooking food together. Community food events like this acknowledge and value multiple interpretations of food from a diverse range of cultures.

Three women were invited to cook food at the event. The first guest was Joraciel from the Philippines. Food is important to her because she has gained many friends through food and is currently participating in Vancouver Community College’s cooking program.

The second guest was Maria from Venezuela. Food has always been a path of healing for her. She came to Canada with low spirits due to issues in her country, but talking about food from her country and sharing her passion for cooking has helped her reconnect to love for her birth country again.

Finally, the third guest speaker was Samara from Saudi Arabia. Samara absolutely loved seeing people’s smiles as she cooked and found their smiles encouraged her to continue cooking!

Photo by Rebecca Suen

At the beginning of the event, one of the speakers identified two important themes that will be present throughout the event: identity and belonging. Keeping this in mind throughout the event I tried to observe examples of these themes. I was pleasantly surprised to find that a group of strangers, who came from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences would learn and bond over their love for food!

Photo by Rebecca Suen

At first. people awkwardly shuffled into their assigned cooking areas. However, after the guests began to cook, people started asking questions and sharing their own knowledge about the dish. People would build upon each other’s knowledge and comment on how their cultures also had similar dishes and share how things may be done differently.

In particular, I remember when Maria asked where we thought green plantain would be eaten. Her answer was the beach! The group was surprised and people started discussing other foods their cultures would bring to the beach and compare the similarities and differences. For example, one lady shared that she would bring baked potatoes, while another would bring potato chips.

Photo by Rebecca Suen

It was amazing to see through sharing cultures and ideas over food how much people learned about food. The event atmosphere was very light, friendly and open. I observed a lot of smiles! In this sense, people identified themselves from a particular culture, but rather than saying one culture’s way of doing things was the right way, people could understand different approaches to the same recipe through sharing stories!

This relates to epistemic knowledge, a branch of food justice that relates to whose knowledge counts when it comes to food knowledge. Through the event, I could see how everyone’s knowledge was welcome and counted, regardless of which culture they came from.

One thing I personally took away from the event was reconnecting with an old friend that I had not seen in about a year. I did not know that she would be attending the event, so it was a wonderful surprise to see her again! We caught up over our love for food and she told me about the food program she was a part of. We were both surprised to be reunited at this
event!

This reconnection made me realize that food truly is a wonderful thing, as it is not only able to bring strangers of different ethnic backgrounds together, but can also reunite old friends as well. I realized that this might have been a similar feeling the immigrant women chefs must have felt, coming to a new country and having to adapt to different living conditions, without having a lot of friends/family around them. Being able to attend these dinners to see familiar faces and meet new people is a treasure that comes with sharing food and sharing culture.

Photo by Rebecca Suen