Food Asset Map

by: Cory Correia

Vancouver Coastal Health has developed an online map that helps people who struggle to pay for healthy food get access to what they need.

The Vancouver Food Asset Map, developed with help from local partners, can help users find low-cost or free meals, free or subsidized grocery items, kitchen or food programs, retail stores or markets, neighbourhood food networks and community organizations.

“For people to find food easily, particularly when they are vulnerable and cannot find food, it’s a one-stop shop, said Kathy Romses, a Vancouver Coastal Health dietitian.

“If it’s for their age group, or it might be for HIV-positive women, it gives them all of the information in an easy-to-use, updated map that they can count on.”

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Teaching farming
In addition to providing food, some of the almost 800 food asset locations listed are also spaces for community members to learn about farming.

One of the those is a garden behind Vancouver Technical Secondary School.

Students there volunteer their time to garden and learn about food sustainability, and some of the older students have worked on the irrigation system.

The garden features red and green leaf lettuce, turnips, cabbage, kale, cilantro, beets and a half dozen other vegetables that are provided for free to those in need.

School principal Annette Vey-Chilton said the garden has become a focal point for students, especially since 25 per cent of them report some food insecurity.

Vey-Chilton said the school runs a breakfast program, feeding more than 100 children every weekday morning, as well as a lunch program feeding 200 children.

“The focus on food and healthy eating, the synergy, … it’s been great for kids to learn from seed to table where their food comes from,” Vey-Chilton said.

‘A living map’
Devon Green is eager to get the information in the map out to those in need. Ten years ago, he was homeless and had few options for food, so after he got back on his feet he started a website featuring similar information.

“Now, I don’t think people have much to worry about in this town, because there are so many resources around there that you just have to ask,” Green said.

Although Romses is happy with the response so far, she said for this map to thrive, the community needs to get behind it.

“It’s now a living, online map where we’re getting community input to help update the map, so we want community to be involved, and feel that this is a map that they can use and support and keep current,” Romses said.

Food Asset Map

by Daily Hive Staff

Vancouver Coastal Health’s Food Asset Map is a tool to find places where people grow, prepare, share, buy, receive and learn about food.

And now, it’s inspiring others, like Devon Green, a Vancouver man in his mid-20s who knows what it’s like to be hungry.

“I was living on the streets of Vancouver with no food, no money and no clue how to access resources,” said Green.

Motivated by his experience, and inspired by the Vancouver Food Asset Map, Devon is now trying to help at risk youth who might otherwise go hungry.

The Vancouver Food Asset Map was developed by VCH public health dietitians in partnership with UBC Land and Food systems students and instructors, Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks, the City of Vancouver, and Fresh Roots.

Map features ‘hundreds’ of locations
The map contains hundreds of locations where people can access food—from community gardens and kitchens to convenience stores –and includes locations of free and subsidized grocery items and free/low cost meals.

Specialty food stores, supermarkets and seasonal markets are also included.

“When people are working 12 hours a day, six days a week and taking transit and perhaps don’t have full cooking facilities, they need to know where they can get a litre of milk and a loaf of bread,” said Kathy Romses, Public Health Dietitian, VCH.

“At school, if kids aren’t eating, they aren’t learning,” said Marc Schutzbank, Executive Director of Fresh Roots. “Food is a way for us to engage youth so they can build supportive peer networks and trusting relationships with adults to develop the skills they need to succeed.”

For the full article:

Wood Carving

A small but brave group of community members met for the first wood carving workshop. Working with the tool is tricky at first. Some of us muscle it through the wood, others go with the flow of the wood grain. Some even use the wood’s knots for inspiration, such as the little critter. – Sophie Noel


The SOYL Program — Much more than simply farm work

What did you first think when you heard about the SOYL Program?

I first heard about it attending the VSB’s 2016 Sustainability Conference.

During the conference’s opportunities fair, Fresh Roots had a small booth in the very corner with a little orange poster. I think I nearly missed it, but fate would have me approaching the Fresh Roots booth while I was waiting for people to clear up around the, quite honestly, much more exciting-looking booth beside it.

There, I was greeted by a friendly girl who gave me the rundown of the program. As she spoke, I began to think: would I be willing to spend my entire summer working on a schoolyard farm? Performing all the laborious tasks needed to grow vegetables? Outside, in the hot summer heat?

Heck yeah I would.

You see, while most sixteen-year-olds would be turned off by the idea of working on a farm, I was in love with it. I started getting involved in environmentally-focused volunteer work in grade 9, and over time I ended up developing a huge passion for environmentalism. Before SOYL, I was an avid volunteer for nature day camps at the Surrey Nature Centre. I was also, at one point, part of something called the Salmon Habitat Restoration Program, which allowed me to spend my last summer removing invasive species and doing industrial education work around the city.

Growing and maintaining a garden was something I had absolutely no knowledge about at the time, and it’s because of Fresh Roots that I’ve been able to learn how to do that. Thank you Fresh Roots.


Negative Food Stories: Opportunities for Relationship

Food is nourishment.  Food is connection.  

Good days, bad days, celebrations, mourning.  Food is there.  It can be a burden, an obligation met by busybody, overstressed workers, parents, caregivers.  It can be a relief, a comfort, a joy; a refuge to hide away, to spend all the time one’s heart desires to craft the shapes, and flavours, and undertones of a remembered but distant dish–of remembered people, places, experiences.  

And of new ones.

Food can be the poverty of an empty table.  It can be the extravagance of waste and excess.

Food can be dreaded.  It can be hoped for.


I attended a [food-]storytelling workshop yesterday.  Parts of the words above came from my scribbled thoughts to the free-write prompt: What does food mean to you?


Food is fundamental and vital for life.  We need it (and we need to grow/gather/cultivate it) to survive, to live, to thrive.  Food can be a source of nourishment not only physically or biologically, but also for the soul.  Traditional foodways and meals can bring back good memories and warm fuzzy feelings.  We like to eat.

These things we know.  And often we hold them as universally applicable to all.  After all, everyone eats, right?

Enjoying a potluck lunch with the crew

Enjoying a potluck picnic lunch with the crew

Talking with a friend at the storytelling workshop about our personal stories of food and “food stories” in general, the topic emerged of Hey, wait a minute.  Not everyone has a positive relationship or association with food.  

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