This Neighbourhood House Impact Story comes from Gordon Neighbourhood House, where the volunteers there are working hard to combat food insecurity in their community by creating community driven food systems that combat food injustice. We hope you enjoy it!

Every day, one in seven BC families struggle to put food on the table. Their concerns are not just about food, but rather systemic impacts that influence their ability to afford food and other basic needs. Food insecurity affects not only the physical and mental health of households, but the wellbeing and resilience of entire communities. As inflation in Canada reaches a four-decade high and costs of living continue to rise, more and more neighbours are feeling the pinch.   

The last 12 months have revealed the fragility of our food systems when faced with crises such as COVID-related disruptions or the sudden and catastrophic flooding of the Fraser Valley. In a matter of weeks, these emergencies have shone a light on the precarious nature of food sources, supply chains, systemic inequalities, and people’s access to essential goods and services.

At the same time, these crises also offered a glimpse of new alternatives, and the roadmap for a more equitable and resilient food system. Neighbours supporting one another, mutual aid networks springing up to plug gaps, organizations adapting and piloting new initiatives, and all levels of government working to secure the production, delivery, and provision of food. 

As pandemic circumstances shift, we are re-evaluating our approach beyond providing emergency food access and aim to question the power dynamics that create marginalization within our food system. Too often, food insecure neighbours are forced to depend on unreliable, unhealthy, and undesirable food sourced from ad hoc charity. Instead of relying on charity and the compassion of individuals, what if we built caring and compassionate systems instead? 

In September 2021, Gordon Neighbourhood House began a systems change project to advance a place-based and strengths-based approach to food justice and poverty reduction that is unique to Vancouver’s West End. Guided by our peer research team, consisting of neighbours who have experienced food insecurity, we are bringing people around the table to build local food systems that work for us. We aim to build advocacy pathways to mobilize and affirm our right to food, while developing food justice initiatives that prioritize and reflect the voices in our neighbourhood. Our vision is a community-driven food system that fosters equitable access, intercultural exchange and dialogue, healthy eating, diverse food traditions, sustainable production, capacity-building, and connection to the land and each other. We are excited to roll this out for the years to come. Click here for more information