Federal Election: How Will our Local Candidates Address Food Insecurity?

In the lead-up to the 2021 Federal election, Gordon Neighbourhood House launched a #WestEndVotes initiative to raise awareness about the election, and encourage eligible neighbours to vote.

Food insecurity is a serious issue in our community, and food justice forms a significant component of our work. Gordon Neighbourhood House is a proud member of the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, a Good Food Member of Community Food Centres Canada, and a local organizer with the Vancouver Neighbourhood Food Network.

Gordon Greens, a mobile produce market program in the West End.

We sent surveys to all confirmed candidates, and asked them questions about important issues affecting our community. Here are their responses regarding poverty and food insecurity.

#WestEndVotes Initiative
Question 5: Food Security
Food insecurity is on the rise and now affects one in seven Canadians. Many families, young adults, and seniors can’t afford food, or worry about running out with no money to buy more. A root cause of food insecurity is poverty. How is your party planning to decrease poverty and food insecurity?

Alaric Paivarinta
, Green Party of Canada
1. Put opportunity back into food production.
2. Encourage farmers to add value to their products through local and direct sales.

Breen Ouellette, The New Democratic Party
In a country as wealthy as Canada, we have no excuse to leave any Canadian in poverty. We need to take bold and meaningful action so that every Canadian has the support they need to live in dignity. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us it is possible for government to act quickly to provide extensive support, including a basic income when Canadians are in desperate need. The NDP will invest in income security programs, starting with seniors and people with disabilities, as a first step toward a future where all Canadians can access a livable basic income.

Access to healthy and affordable food is at the heart of the NDP’s food strategy. The NDP would implement a national school nutrition program to ensure that no child enters the classroom hungry.

Hedy Fry, The Liberal Party of Canada
We plan to help people who can and wish to work by providing training leading to jobs and raising minimum wage to $15. We are expanding housing for low-income people. During COVID we worked with local farmers and agricultural producers to supply food for people and created massive food banks. Much of this food was distributed by community organizers. We have been able to reduce poverty in 900,000 seniors and aim to reduce it to zero. During COVID we gave seniors a one-time top up and are raising OAS for people over 74 which will help seniors with food insecurity. In addition, our government provided $300 million through the emergency food fund to food banks and other organizations to address food insecurity during the pandemic.

Taylor Singleton-Fookes, The People’s Party of Canada
The amount of poverty in a society is indicative of how healthy that societies economy is. Artificial government forces that increase the price of food are wrong and should be ceased immediately. The supply management system imposes a financial burden of $339 annually on the poorest 20%. The carbon tax raises the cost of everything. Money printing and the resulting price inflation impacts the poor most. A healthy economy with lower taxes and less interest group protection will reduce poverty and reduce food insecurity.
See: 
https://www.peoplespartyofcanada.ca/supply-management

Harry Cockell, The Conservative Party of Canada
We did not receive a response from this candidate.

Join the discussion, and share your views using the hashtag #WestEndVotes
Click HERE to meet the candidates running for Vancouver Centre.
Click HERE to return to the West End Votes main page.

This initiative was generously supported by Community Food Centres Canada Election Organizing Grant.


Cooking With UBC Students

During March we teamed up with ‘UBC Reading Week‘ which is an opportunity for students to learn from and share their skills with community organizations.

Three students were placed at Gordon Neighbourhood House where they planned and hosted a vegetarian cook-a-long for our community members. All ingredients were purchased for participants ahead of time and the group prepared tofu ramen with salad rolls. Recipes below!

Ramen with Tofu

Ingredients (for 4 servings):

  • Extra firm tofu packet
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 packages of instant ramen
  • 4 cups fresh spinach
  • 4 green onions
  • (optional – for extra flavour!) 2 packets of Miso soup packets

Steps:

1. Drain the tofu and cut it into 1/2-inch cubes.

2. Add the water, vegetable broth, and soup base of the instant ramen packets to a small sauce pot. (optional: can add miso soup packets here too!). Whisk until the soup bases (and miso) have been dissolved.

3. Add the cubed tofu to the pot, place a lid on top, and bring it up to a boil over high heat.

4. Once boiling, add the instant ramen noodles. Boil for one to two minutes, or just until the noodles begin to soften and pull loose from each other.

5. Add four handfuls of fresh spinach and stir it into the hot broth until wilted. The noodles will finish cooking as the spinach wilts.

6. Slice the green onions and sprinkle over top of the ramen just before serving.

Veggie Salad Rolls

Ingredients (for 8 rolls):

  • Warm water
  • 8 rice paper wrappers
  • 1 cup white mushrooms
  • 2 medium carrots
  • ½ english cucumber
  • 1 cup red cabbage
  • ½ yellow bell pepper

Steps:

1. Slice mushrooms, carrots, cucumbers, cabbage, and bell peppers.

2. Fill a medium shallow bowl with warm water and set near your work station.

3. Dip a rice paper wrapper in the warm water for a few seconds, submerging completely. Remove and lay flat on a smooth, clean surface, such as a plate.

4. Add a combination of sliced mushrooms, sliced carrots, sliced cucumber, sliced cabbage, and sliced bell pepper to the middle of the wrapper. Be careful not to overfill, or rolling it will become difficult!

5. Fold both sides of the rice paper over the vegetables to secure.

6. Lift the bottom edge of the rice paper and carefully fold it over the top of the vegetables, tucking it under on the other side, then gently roll until the vegetables are completely covered and the top edge of the wrapper adheres to the spring roll.

7. Set the spring roll aside and cover with a damp paper towel to keep fresh while you repeat with the remaining ingredients. Once you’ve finished making the spring rolls, chill in the fridge.

OPTIONAL SAUCES BELOW: You can also make sauces for dipping the salad rolls to further enjoy with the food!

Peanut sauce:

  • ¼ cup natural peanut butter
  • ½ teaspoon ginger, minced (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup or another liquid sweetener 
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes (optional)

Whisk until combined.

Fish sauce:

Add water, sugar, lemon juice, and fish sauce. Whisk until combined. Can top with garlic cloves too! It’s 2-2-6(?). 2 tablespoons of fish sauce with 2 tablespoons of sugar, then roughly 6 tablespoons of water but you adjust here if the taste is too strong = add more… Then a squeeze of lemon/lime and walah. I hope that helps! 


Planter Box Encourages Neighbours to Rethink Edible Native Plants

Over the winter months you may have noticed a new planter box with perennial plants and signage in front of Gordon Neighbourhood House. The project was created by West End neighbour Jesse Orr. Jesse is a multidisciplinary artist, farmer, gardener, and is engaged in community activism and social justice. Jesse volunteers with Gordon Neighbourhood House through our Young Ideas group.

The planter originated in the summer of 2020 as ‘Invite The Bees’, an installation of summer flowering native plants for the Vines Art Festival. After the success of the flowering plants installation, Jesse was keen to extend the project into the winter months, this time connecting native plants and landscaping to local food systems.

For thousands of years Indigenous people have thrived on locally-sourced ingredients, yet wider discussions around food security and local food systems tend to focus on Western European-centric diets. This narrow approach excludes Indigenous societies and ignores the ecological benefits of growing and eating native plants, which tend to use fewer resources and are more beneficial overall for other organisms.

Jesse’s aim is to combine art with the natural world in an interactive way that encourages neighbours to rethink native plants species in relation to their diet and gardens. She hopes that neighbours will taste the berries, learn the plant names, identify characteristics of these native species, and ultimately inspire others to consider introducing these plants into their gardens and planter boxes.

I’m interested in local food for greater food security and for a lower carbon footprint in agriculture, but that conversation often focuses only on a Western diet. I’m learning that what shouldn’t be forgotten is the fact that the pre-colonial ecology of this area was in itself a sustainable foodscape, shaped by local people, and that is a very different way of eating than mainstream agriculture provides. The work of Dawn Morrison and the Indigenous Food Systems Network over decades has done a lot to bring attention to this colonial frame which tends to dominate the food systems topic.” – Jesse Orr

Further Resources:

The Environmental Youth Alliance is doing a lot of cool work around appreciating local plants (many which are commonly called weeds) and ecology. Follow the link to find out more about this project – Re-wilding Vancouver.

Fraser Valley Conservancy has created a major resource that provides a step by step guide to creating your own backyard eco-system.

Check out this news article about gardening with local food-bearing plants.

Dawn Morrison of the Indigenous Food Systems Network, along with a panel of experts, partnered with UBC to host a webinar titled ‘Decolonizing the Land and Food Systems’ available to view here.

First We Eat is a documentary about a family living in Dawson City, Yukon on the traditional territory of the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in. This family embarks on a year long goal of eating only locally sourced food, and share what they learned in the process such as tips on foraging, recipes, and other interesting information.

Taste the berries!

All neighbours are invited to come by and check out this installation. Please be mindful of physical distancing, mask wearing, and Honourable Harvest Teachings, as the plants are for the whole community to enjoy and learn from.

Please reach out if you are interested in obtaining one of these plants for your own garden, local vendors include Art’s Nursery and Figaro’s Garden.

Bunchberry (edible berries)

Licorice Fern (edible & medicinal)

Oval-Leaved Blueberry (edible berries)

Salal (edible berries)


We’re Hiring! Community Program Worker (Cooking)

Do you enjoy cooking? Are you eager to make an impact in your community? Are you looking to join a team of fun, dedicated, and passionate people? If your answer is yes, Gordon Neighbourhood House is looking for you!

POSTED: April 1st, 2021
START DATE: As soon as possible
DEADLINE: Until position filled

OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE:
Two                              
1 Permanent part-time position (21 hours per week)
1 Temporary part-time position (14 hours per week until fall 2021)

COMPENSATION
Permanent part-time: $17.12/hour + benefits;
Temporary part-time: $17.12/hour + 4% in lieu of benefits.

SUMMARY OF POSITION
Shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic was declared a public health emergency, Gordon Neighbourhood House (GNH) in collaboration with our partners started an emergency frozen meal delivery program.

This program is one of several initiatives GNH has launched to improve food access in the community during the pandemic, and seek permanent solutions to the persistent and systemic causes of food insecurity in our neighbourhood.

Every week, we prepare and freeze 250 made-from-scratch meals, which are then delivered directly to participants via Shift bicycle couriers. Since the program started, our food team has prepared over 9,000 delicious and nutrient-rich meals that feature diverse menu options, while accommodating participant dietary restrictions.

We are looking for two part-time team members who will be responsible for preparing, cooking, and portioning 250-300 meals every week. This is a hands-on kitchen role. Examples of meals could include: vegetarian curries, spaghetti, stews, macaroni & cheese, stir fries, peanut stews, casseroles, chili, tofu bowls, etc.

KEY DUTIES
– Prepare food for emergency frozen meal delivery program

PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITIES
–  Follow FoodSafe health and safety procedures at all times
–  Cook meals using recipes from our monthly menu
–  Prepare ingredients and cook delicious and healthy food
–  Heat and cool meals to required temperatures
–  Portion and plate meals
–  Clean and sanitize kitchen, equipment, and utensils
–  Ensure meals are prepared on time and within our budget

TASKS
–  Maintain kitchen tidiness and ensure supplies and equipment are clean and organized
–  Set-up, clean, and sanitize work stations
–  Clean, wash, and sanitize equipment, dishes, and utensils
–  Complete program-related records and documentation
–  Estimate expected ingredient requirements and coordinate preparation
–  Prepare ingredients for cooking: washing, peeling, chopping, seasoning, etc.
–  Safely operate oven, grill, dishwasher, appliances, hand tools, and utensils
–  Ensure prepared food reaches required heating and cooling temperatures
–  Portion meals into individual containers


SKILLS AND QUALIFICATIONS

–  Food Safe Certificate
–  One year related experience or an equivalent combination of education and training
–  Ability to multi-task, prioritize duties, and manage time efficiently
–  Ability to work in a team environment or independently
–  Self-motivated and directed
–  Physical endurance to stand and move during the length of the entire shift
–  Ability to stand, sit, kneel, bend, move, complete repetitive motions, and lift up to 25 pounds

LOCATION: Gordon Neighbourhood House (1019 Broughton Street, Vancouver)
Gordon Neighbourhood House is open to staff Monday to Friday between 9:00am-5:00pm during the pandemic. Shifts will take place during regular operating hours. The hours of this position are dependent on funding and may increase if additional funding is secured, or if new programs are introduced.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­TO APPLY
Please e-mail your resume, and a brief description detailing why you would be a great fit for this position to welcome@gordonhouse.org with ‘Community Program Worker’ in the subject line (no phone calls please).

This is an internal and external posting. We thank all interested applicants; however only short-listed candidates will be contacted.

Gordon Neighbourhood House is a proud member of the Association of Neighbourhood Houses of BC (ANHBC), which is an equal opportunity employer. We place a high value on diversity and encourage qualified individuals from all backgrounds and identities to consider applying for the position. Our total compensation and benefits package reflects our commitment to our staff and their family. For more information about Gordon Neighbourhood House, visit www.gordonhouse.org.


Food Hamper Program

The gap of food security and accessibility for the community has always existed, but is more apparent than ever now due to COVID-19. We started our food hamper at the end of November 2020, where our goal is to provide weekly emergency dignified food relief to those who are facing barriers to food security. As grocery stores are less accessible to vulnerable communities, the hampers are delivered directly to people’s homes through Shift Delivery, a local bike courier using trikes and electric cargo vehicles.

As per our Food Philosophy, we want to be able to share fresh, healthy food and increase food literacy with our community. The hampers consist of fresh fruits and vegetables, shelf stable items, such as dried beans, rice, oats, proteins such as eggs and canned salmon or tuna, and toiletries.

Recipes are shared in the hampers as the fresh produce varies weekly, with great intention we want our participants to increase food literacy by cooking in new ways or trying a new vegetable that they haven’t had before, while being culturally aware. We accommodate to dietary needs of the community including diabetic, low sodium, vegetarian/vegan diets.

So far, we have made and delivered almost 500 hampers! We would like to give a huge thanks to Saint Paul’s Anglican Church for providing us the space to safely sort out our hampers. We would also like to thank our funders, the United Way of the Lower Mainland and Mazon Canada for making this program possible to implement and carry forward.


Nourish in the Kitchen with Stephanie!

As we pivoted our seniors programming to online, we welcomed a few new programs, including a cooking class with our TAPS program assistant, Stephanie.

Our classes take place every Monday at 2pm over Zoom. Following our Food Philosophy, we want to increase community capacity building by cooking culturally-diverse meals and increasing food literacy. Stephanie cooks plant-based meals as they reduce our greenhouse gases impact on the environment but encourages the seniors to customize and add in any extra proteins or other foods that they would like and have the ability to do so. The seniors are able to learn new skills and cook alongside while asking questions or simply just watch as a cooking show!

Here’s our menu of recipes we’ve cooked so far:

  • Sweet potato, carrot and ginger soup
  • Salad rolls with peanut sauce
  • Thai red curry
  • Aloo gobi
  • Falafel with fresh pita
  • Daal with spinach and roti
  • Moroccan-styled stew with sweet potato & cauliflower
  • Gado Gado (Indonesian salad with peanut sauce)
  • Tom Kha Gai soup (Thai coconut soup)
  • Chinese Dumplings
  • Pad Thai

Enjoy (and try not to get too hungry!) meal pictures from our participants:


Quick Pickling Recipe

This recipe is quick pickling, not fermentation! So, this recipe is less technical and will last about 2-3 weeks in the fridge. This recipe is great to use to increase the longevity of your veggies. It is also great for your gut health as it provides a source of probiotics. You can be creative with what you pickle, so you can use onions, jalapeños, cucumbers and more in place of the cabbage. These can be used in many versatile dishes to add a freshness to, including salads, tacos, bowls, and as a side dish.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup of red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup of apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
  • 1 tsp of sugar
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • glass jar with a tight lid (ie. Mason jar, old jam jar)

If you have more cabbage, feel free to use it all and just use the ratio of cabbage to vinegar, making sure that the cabbage is fully covered once it’s in the jar.

Instructions:

  1. Thinly slice the cabbage using a knife carefully or a mandolin.
  2. In a mason jar, add all of the ingredients and cover with a lid then give it a shake. Make sure that all of the cabbage is completely covered with liquid, if it’s not then add more vinegar.
  3. Let it sit for 1-2 hours at room temperature.
  4. Refrigerate for 2-3 weeks.

Herb Oil Cubes Recipe

by Stephanie

Do you have leftover herbs in your house that are wilting? Or want to prevent the herbs from going bad? Make some quick and super easy herb oil cubes!

What you’ll need:

  • ice cube tray
  • fresh herbs
  • liquid oil (ie. olive oil, grapeseed oil, canola oil, sunflower oil)

Instructions:

  1. Chop up all of your herbs (including stems) or leave in larger sprigs & stems, then fill the ice cube compartments 2/3 full with herbs.
  2. Top it with your oil to fully cover, then pop it into the freezer
  3. Now you have an herb oil that is ready to use whenever you want to cook, just put it onto the frying pan or pot!