Neighbourhood Food Networks Provide Opportunities to Move from Charity Food Model to Dignified Food Access


Vancouver is home to over a dozen individual, but connected, Neighbourhood Food Networks that have a unique role to play in the food movement. Thursday January 22, these networks hosted two events back to back to meet with current and potential funders, partners, and media.


Forty-six registrants made up of government, credit unions and banks, foundations, big grocery chains, local businesses, and others attended Funder Nourished: Setting a Plate for Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks where they were nourished by sustainable, local food generously provided by Whole Foods Market. With Peter Ladner, author of The Urban Food Revolution (2011), as MC, a panel of Neighbourhood Food Network coordinators talked about moving away from charity models of food giving to approaches that support dignity, social justice, and community building.

This work can include hosting nutritional tours of supermarkets, creating mobile produce markets in areas lacking in fresh food options, guiding community kitchens to cook healthy food together, creating food scrap depots to reduce the amount of food scraps wasted, facilitating intergenerational cooking classes with children and seniors, and so much more. “It’s all about community and bringing people together to nourish themselves and their neighbours,” says Zsuzsi Fodor, the Networks’ Coordinator. With so much great food work already happening in the city’s neighbourhoods, one of the most important roles of the networks is to weave together the people doing it for an even greater impact and maximization of often scarce resources.


Grandview Woodland Food Connection Coordinator, Ian Marcuse, explained how relationships have been cultivated between teenagers and other community residents in his neighbourhood in a program called ‘Off the Grill’ where three times each week they cook and eat together. “It’s a collaborative program supported by Drug & Alcohol workers, Children’s Hospital, and the Neighbourhood Food Network that brings people together who might not otherwise have ever met. Food is a powerful relationship-building tool,” Marcuse adds.


“The City of Vancouver has incorporated our work as a priority in their Food Strategy.” explains Fodor. The existence and growth of Neighbourhood Food Networks is regarded as an indicator of healthy community food access and advocacy in Vancouver’s neighbourhoods. These individual networks have now officially united as the ‘Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks’ in order to raise their profile and diversify funding. Their afternoon event, News Feed: A Taste of Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks provided an opportunity for media to learn more about food issues in our city from network coordinators and MC Trish Kelly, former Co-Chair of the Vancouver Food Policy Council.


The Neighbourhood Food Networks believe in the human right to food for all,  accessed with dignity and choice as well as the ability of food to support connected communities where neighbours know one another. Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Networks are a step in the right direction and they need support during this time of growth.


For more information about their work, visit


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