MAZON Canada Supports COVID-19 Emergency Food Relief Program

Gordon Neighbourhood House staff prepare dozens of emergency grocery hampers every week in the basement of St. Paul’s Anglican Church.

Thanks to generous funding from MAZON Canada (The Jewish response to hunger), Gordon Neighbourhood House has been able to provide much-needed emergency food relief during the pandemic.

When COVID-19 first emerged, it quickly became apparent that food security would become a top priority for the West End neighbourhood of Vancouver.

Rent in the district is higher than average, and household incomes and size are much lower than other areas. When combined (eg. a single senior on a fixed income with rising housing costs), it can become difficult for many residents to afford healthy and sufficient food.

GNH received a $5,000 grant from MAZON Canada to support a contact-free grocery delivery program. Every week, dozens of West End households safely receive a hamper packed with fresh produce, fruit, and pantry staples.

This program in one of several initiatives GNH has launched to improve food access in the community. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the organization has: distributed $65,000 in grocery store gift cards; prepared and shipped 8,000 frozen meals; hosted virtual food workshops; and delivered over 500 grocery hampers.

“[The food hampers] are such a delight to open,” stated one recipient, “the produce is so fresh and wonderful, and I just wanted you and your team to know that each week I’m incredibly grateful.”

These programs wouldn’t be possible without the collaboration of dedicated partners, and commitment from generous donors.

When the idea for the program first germinated, GNH had experienced food programmers, but lacked the space needed to safely operate a physically-distanced hamper program. At the same time, nearby St. Paul’s Anglican Church on Jervis Street had an underutilized hall, but didn’t have the staff capacity to stock and deliver hundreds of hampers.

“On our own we don’t have the resources to do the things we want to, but when we pool our resources, we find that wonderful things are achieved” states Revd Philip Cochrane, the Rector at St. Paul’s Anglican Church. “We also build connection and collaboration for the future.”

The grocery hamper initiative was made possible thanks to: St. Paul’s Anglican Church, The Food Stash Foundation, Food Runners, volunteers, and our transportation provider Shift Delivery. In addition to MAZON Canada, the grocery hamper initiative also received financial support from the United Way Local Love Food Hub initiative.

GNH would like to thank the Jewish community of Canada, through MAZON Canada, help fund valuable food security initiatives in our community.

The impacts of food insecurity go beyond simply just a lack of food, it makes people sick, makes it harder to get stable work, and makes it difficult to fully participate in society. Research has repeatedly recognized a link between poverty, food insecurity, and reduced health outcomes. A lack of access to nutritious food negatively affects physical and mental health, can take a toll on relationships, and affects our entire community.

Gordon Neighbourhood House has adopted a food philosophy to guide emergency food programs and seek permanent solutions to the persistent and systemic causes of food security in our neighbourhood.

“Food is an absolute human right,” Remarked GNH Food Programmer Stephanie Woo, “but it becomes difficult to stabilize and prioritize the quality and quantity when there’s rent, bills, restricted time, and now COVID impacting their lives every day.”

Greater Vancouver has the third largest Jewish community in Canada, and about 6.7% of the country’s overall Jewish population. In the 2011 census, the West End had the highest density of Jewish elders in the entire city. Almost a quarter (24.3%) of Jewish people living in the West End are seniors, comprising 575 individuals. Last December, GNH convened Jewish neighbours for a Hanukkah celebration that was held virtually due to public gathering restrictions as a result of the pandemic.

For more information about Gordon Neighbourhood House’s emergency food relief programs during COVID-19, please call (604) 683-2554 or email