Vancouver, BC – 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,” he says. 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.
The map contains hundreds of locations where people can access food—from community gardens and kitchens to convenience stores. It 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,” says Kathy Romses, Public Health Dietitian, VCH.
The map was populated with the assistance of partner organizations, including Fresh Roots, which works with communities to run educational farms on school grounds where students cultivate and sell food. The fruits—or in most cases, the vegetables—of their labour are sold at Vancouver restaurants, school cafeterias, mobile markets, and are provided to other community organizations.
“At school, if kids aren’t eating, they aren’t learning,” says Marc Schutzbank, Executive Director, 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.”
“When I was a kid aging out of care, I didn’t understand the link between food and access to resources,” says Devon Green. Food is the link that ties us together, and with the Vancouver Food Asset Map, there is a smorgasbord of places to access food.”
Devon is now working on a map of his own, geared specifically towards youth. “The Vancouver Food Asset Map doesn’t deal with the root causes of hunger, but it does build connections to food security so people can access reasonably-priced or free food,” says Kathy Romses. “On this World Food Day, providing access to food in our own community helps promote awareness of the need to ensure food security for all.”
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Vancouver Coastal Health is responsible for the delivery of $3.3 billion in community, hospital and residential care to more than one million people in communities including Richmond, Vancouver, the North Shore, Sunshine Coast, Sea to Sky corridor, Powell River, Bella Bella and Bella Coola.
Public Affairs Officer, Vancouver Coastal Health
Office: (604) .708-5338
Cell: (604) 312-1148