In Conversation with Agata Feetham

By: Scott Douglas Jacobsen (GNH Community Journalist/Blogger)


Tell us about your brief background – family, education, and work.

I am originally from Poland. I moved to Canada when I was 8 years old with my parents and younger brother. We were very fortunate to have a smooth immigration experience and have been living in Vancouver since 1989. I went to UBC and got my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and then a Diploma in Guidance Studies (through the Faculty of Education). I have been working for Gordon Neighbourhood House for a total of 15 years and currently I am the Program Director.

How did you find out about Gordon Neighbourhood House? 

During my first year in University, I started volunteering at my local neighbourhood House (South Van NH) and there I came across a job posting for a child care worker at GNH.

What interested you about us? 

As a psychology student, I was very excited to gain experience working with children in a community setting.

Now, you’re the Program Director for Gordon Neighbourhood House. What tasks and responsibilities come with this position? 

As the Program Director, I oversee the majority of programs that are not food initiatives (we have a Director of Community Food Initiatives). This includes program coordination, program evaluation, and overseeing a number of community program staff that run and supervise a wide variety of programs.

How did you come upon, and earn, this position?

I took part-time classes throughout university so that I could work part-time and gain experience. I started working in different positions with children and youth (e.g. Out of School Care, Summer and Spring Break Day Camps, etc.) at Gordon Neighbourhood House in 2001 and 3 months after I graduated from the Diploma program in 2005, I was offered the position of Child, Family, and Youth Program Coordinator. Since then, my position and title have changed a couple of times and I now work with GNH as the Program Director.

Where do you hope Gordon Neighbourhood House moves forward into the future? 

My hope for GNH is that it continues to grow and expand the wonderful work that it already offers. I am extremely proud and honoured to be part of an organization and staff team that truly makes a difference in the lives of our neighbours. GNH is very dear to my heart. I have witnessed hundreds of examples over the last 15 years of how essential GNH is to making the West End a vibrant, healthy, and active community.


Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Gordon Neighbourhood House Community Journalist/Blogger. He founded In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing.

In Conversation with Chantal Denis

By: Scott Douglas Jacobsen (GNH Community Journalist/Blogger)


Tell us about your brief background – family, education, and work.

I was born and raised in Ottawa, and lived there until I left to attend Western University in London, Ontario. I started out in biomedical sciences but ended up graduating with a degree in psychology, with the goal of teaching primary French immersion. During the summer of 2012, I had a rather sudden change of heart and realized that I wanted to pursue food. Vegetarian at the time, I found a job at one of Ottawa’s most well known vegetarian restaurants, a pay-by-weight buffet called The Green Door. That was where my cooking career began and where I was first introduced to the kind of large scale cooking I now do daily. I spent 3 years working there, including while I was taking a post-graduate certificate in Event Management. Last summer, I cooked for a tree-planting camp and after that I decided, on a whim, to move to Vancouver in pursuit of a better life as a commuter cyclist. Only a month after my arrival, I was lucky enough to land a job as Vega’s Office Chef, where I prepare a daily vegan lunch for 100 employees at their headquarters in Burnaby. So far, my life on the West Coast has been pretty dreamy!

How did you find out about Gordon Neighbourhood House?

The weekend after I officially moved to Vancouver, I met a friend of a friend on a trip to Salt Spring Island. She lives in the West End and had been involved with GNH. She told me about the Nourish photo series and suggested that I be photographed. That photoshoot led to an in-depth conversation with Matt (the photographer and chair of GNH’s Community Advisory Board) about food philosophy. He introduced me to Paul and the rest is history!

What interested you about us?

I think the first thing that really drew me to GNH is the incredible energy of the space. It’s a hard thing to describe, but I suppose the best way to put it is that Gordon has very, very good vibes. After such a good first impression, what sealed the deal was the fact that Gordon’s food philosophy so closely mirrors my own. Their radical stance on food security really resonated with me and I absolutely love how community-minded all of their food programming is.

Now, you’re the Cooking With Chantal and Veggie Soup-a-Stars Coordinator for Gordon Neighbourhood House. What tasks and responsibilities come with these positions?

Cooking With is a plant-based cooking class that I have the absolute pleasure of teaching once a month. For this class, I am responsible for choosing a theme and then developing/selecting recipes that we will be making. Once all that preparation is done and the ingredients have been acquired, I am responsible for facilitating the 2 hour class with my goal always being to empower people to cook by providing as many new skills and laughs as I can.

Veggie Soup-a-Stars is a weekly community kitchen that is much more low key than the cooking classes. I am responsible for leading a group of amazing volunteers as we prepare a large meal Sunday evenings that will be served for “Meatless Monday” – a pay-what-you-can lunch program that usually attracts around 25 people. I don’t prepare recipes for this group but I do have to plan the menus and gather the ingredients. I am also responsible for weekly reminders to the group and coordinating things if I happen to be away for a weekend. During the community kitchen, I assign tasks and provide tips when applicable. We’ve developed into a really strong team and I am so impressed by how efficient we are and by what a lovely community we’ve created!

How did you come upon, and earn, these positions?

I feel very grateful that these positions were more or less created for me by Paul and Chantille. I expressed interest in getting involved with GNH and wanted to put to use my large-scale cooking experience as well as my passion for making plant-based cooking affordable and accessible. After a few chats with Chantille, they created these programs that were a great fit for me to facilitate as well as very complementary additions to the existing programming at GNH.

Where do you hope Gordon Neighbourhood House moves forward into the future?

I hope that GNH never lets go of its radical food philosophy and keeps pushing the boundaries of the current food system in Vancouver. I believe that food programs are such an integral part of the work done by Gordon and I hope that they continue to evolve in a meaningful and community-minded way. I think that Gordon being involved in the creation of a Community Food Centre would be a huge step towards a better, more just food system in Vancouver.



Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Gordon Neighbourhood House Community Journalist/Blogger. He founded In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing.

Vegetable Deliveries Turn Into Clothing Donations


SPUD Vancouver and The Attic Thrift Stores have partnered on a unique fundraiser for Gordon Neighbourhood House. SPUD is a local company that offers online grocery shopping and delivery for fresh produce and local organic foods. Every day SPUD delivers hundreds of totes of food to subscribers all across Metro Vancouver. Normally the empty totes are picked up by delivery drivers when a new shipment is delivered.

For the week of June 6th-12th  SPUD subscribers could place gently-used clothes and household items into their empty bins, and SPUD drivers would then drop off the donations at The Attic Thrift Store.

Gordon Neighbourhood House now operates two locations of the popular Attic Thrift Store, the original at 1019 Broughton Street (between Comox and Nelson) and the second location at 1340 Davie Street (near Jervis Street).

The social enterprise stores sell donated items to raise funds for programs at initiatives at GNH.

“We are very grateful for the generosity of Vancouverites, and companies like SPUD who supported this unique campaign,” stated Jim Balakshin, a Community Programmer at GNH who supports the Attic Thrift Store Volunteer Team, “We are always excited to introduce more people to our stores, and at the same time receive great donations that we can make available at affordable prices.”

The initiative generated hundreds of donations which filled an entire SPUD delivery van.

Thank you SPUD for supporting Gordon Neighbourhood House! If your business or organization is interested in partnering with The Attic Thrift Store, please contact ‪#‎togetherwegrow

spud 2

Looking Up: New Art Installation Brings Life and Colour to GNH

By Zoey Gray, GNH Community Journalist/Blogger


Visitors to Gordon Neighbourhood House (GNH) may have noticed a recent addition to its interior – large, colourful, and intricate, a new sculptural installation now hangs beneath the skylights of GNH. This addition to the space was proposed by GNH Executive Director Paul M. Taylor, and was brought to life this past winter by students and faculty from UBC’s Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory.

A wooden art installation hanging in Impact Hub Ottawa was what inspired Paul Taylor to bring some sculptural art into the neighbourhood house. Moved by this wooden installation, Taylor soon partnered with UBC, where his idea was met with great enthusiasm from the university’s Visual Arts Department.

UBC’s Visual Art 401D students, led by professor Richard Prince and instructor/coordinator Christine d’Onofrio, worked diligently to bring the project to completion within a matter of months. Although they worked under the mentorship of their two instructors, Prince credits nearly all the hard work to his students. Within the time constraints of their semester, Prince says his 22 students worked together to design and complete the entire installation, titled “One Thousand Kinds of Wind.”

“It became a really important class for the students, because all of a sudden they weren’t just working in theory, or working for themselves, they were working for a public project,” explains Prince.

With this goal in mind, the class brought a multitude of their own ideas together and tailored their design to suit GNH. The leaf-like shapes within the installation, says student Ariel Kaplen, were inspired by the leaves within the GNH logo, while the variety of colours was intended to cultivate a welcoming space for GNH’s wide age demographic. The colour choices, adds Kaplen, were carefully chosen by the students in order to have them complement the space. With the installation set under a skylight, she explains, the students had to consider how the sunlight would interact with the piece.

“We wanted to have that sort of visibility where if the light was going through [the installation] at a certain time of day, it would go through the translucent pieces and cast the colour upon the walls,” adds Sara Sampson, another student who worked on the project. Indeed, at the right time of day, visitors will be lucky enough to witness the sculpture splash the walls with different colours.

The piece was installed soon after its completion, thanks to Ben Bakk, Warren Bakk, and Doug Sissons of Vision Pacific Construction. Future plans for the space include renovations designed by international design and architecture firm Perkins+Will in late 2016, and will consist of newly painted walls as well as interior lighting, both of which will complement the installation.

And the new installation has already sparked a buzz amidst the neighbourhood community. Enlivening a once empty space, “One Thousand Kinds of Wind” has made visitors look up, pause, and appreciate the installation, striking them with a feeling much like that which was felt by Paul M. Taylor many months ago in Impact Hub Ottawa.

“It’s so wonderful to see members of our community so proud of their neighbourhood house,” says Paul Taylor, “because it’s a place with a really beautiful, engaging art piece. I think it’s pretty special and will be here for years to come.”


One Thousand Kinds of Wind (December 2015)

Nadya Bowcott
Holly Clarke
Liang Che
Teresa Chu
Makoto Hoshina
Ariel Kaplen
Alexander Korchev
Tamlyn Kunimoto
Ria Ma
Kamille Manoy
Breanna Mulhall
Ella Li
Rebecca Ou
Chelsea Park
Jiapei Qin
Sara Sampson
Lin Tai
Elizabeth Villalva
Ke Wang
Chadman Wong
Richard Yeung
Victoria Zhu

Professor: Richard Prince
Instructor/Coordinator: Christine d’Onofrio
Paul M. Taylor, Gordon Neighbourhood House


Growing the Vancouver Food Movement Together



Growing the Vancouver Food Movement Together

(Coast Salish Territories) On May 19, 2016 Gordon Neighbourhood House, a nonprofit organization in Vancouver’s West End, will be hosting the first annual Vancouver Food Summit.

The Vancouver Food Summit is an opportunity for community food practitioners, funders, activists and stakeholders to spend a day sharing experience and expertise, challenging assumptions, having difficult conversations and exploring how to deepen our collective impact.

Gordon Neighbourhood House has a strong history of operating community-based food initiatives aimed at lessening food insecurity in its community. According to Paul Taylor, the executive director of Gordon Neighbourhood House, “The Vancouver Food Movement has significant momentum, in fact this year Vancouver celebrates the third anniversary of the Vancouver Food Strategy. A key aspect of the conversation as the movement grows has to be about who is left out of the conversation and why? The Vancouver Food Summit is an opportunity for us to collectively push ourselves to think about how to continue the momentum while being intentional around building an inclusive food movement.”

Event participants will choose between eight different panels throughout the day, involving discussions on eight topics central to Vancouver’s food movement. Topics will include: the advancement of indigenous food sovereignty, a critical look at food banks, the efficacy of food policy at challenging poverty, the question of whether local food is inherently more just, accessibility as it relates to food security, and whether food waste is an opportunity or a curse. Summit participants will be served breakfast as well as lunch with the option of attending a Happy Hour following the event, with local craft beer available. There is a great deal of excitement and enthusiasm surrounding the Vancouver’s Food Summit, and tickets for the event sold out less than a month after being released.

As part of the burgeoning Canadian Good Food Movement, Gordon Neighbourhood House for the second year in a row has been recognized as a Good Food Organization working in alliance with Community Food Centres Canada. Community Food Centres Canada works with organizations across Canada to build greater capacity for impact and to empower communities to work toward a healthy and fair food system. Gordon Neighbourhood House was awarded one of five $50,000 grants made available across the country by Community Food Centres Canada to grow their food programs. Gordon Neighbourhood House’s community food programs are also supported by the Vancouver Foundation, the City of Vancouver, the United Way of the Lower Mainland, Vancity Credit Union, Whole Foods Market Vancouver and members of the community. Diana Bronson, the executive director of Food Secure Canada, will deliver the keynote presentation at the Vancouver Food Summit.

Gordon Neighbourhood House is a nonprofit organization based in Vancouver’s West End that has been in operation since 1942. The organization functions as a community hub offering services geared toward creating an engaged and vibrant community in which all members feel empowered to participate in society. Gordon Neighbourhood House works alongside community and sister organizations to develop programs that meet the needs of its diverse community. Please visit for more information.

Media Contact:

Carolyn Henson
Gordon Neighbourhood House
(778) 242-0867

Paul M. Taylor
Gordon Neighbourhood House
Executive Director
(604) 369-3651

Young Ideas: A Fresh Initiative for the West End

By Hal Shin, GNH Community Journalist/Blogger

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In the West End, the demographic of individuals age 20 to 39 represents by far the largest portion of the community, sitting at a staggering 48% of the population*.

You would expect, with a dominant age group of that range the West End would see a well-connected and engaged young adult community.

That does not seem to be the case, according to its inhabitants.

The Vancouver Foundation’s 2012 Survey** found that “one-third of the people we surveyed say it is difficult to make new friends here. And one in four say they are alone more often than they would like to be. In both cases, people who experience this also report poorer health, lower trust and a hardening of attitudes toward other community members.”

The problem, for Vancouver, is cost. Rob Parry, a member of Young Ideas, has found that “the ability to access opportunities to meet peers socially requires having a lot of money … or having an established social network to build from.” With prices in Vancouver as high as it is, denizens of the West End find social activities deterred by costs and a lack of social culture.

It is this problem that Young Ideas seeks to remedy. Since its inception in 2014, Young Ideas has targeted the 20-39 age demographic; by putting emphasis on affordability and accessibility, Young Ideas hopes to cement a sense of social belonging and health, a motif to which they remain faithful to this day.

“We’re trying to fight that feeling of social isolation and [to] create the opportunity for people to be part of a community,” says Brendan Bailey, another member of Young Ideas.

“Young Ideas is a mechanism for young adults that work, volunteer or live in the West End to lead low-cost activities and initiatives aimed at facilitating connection,” says Paul Taylor, the Executive Director at Gordon Neighbourhood House.

The activities, events, and workshops hosted by Young Ideas range greatly. From Game On, a monthly free games night to Cooking With a monthly cooking class ($2), Young

Ideas is also known for its larger events, from their annual pride party, to the infamous Brews and Chews (a part of the West End Food Festival).

Upcoming Young Ideas Events:

YOGA – Pay what you can – EVERY TUESDAY

Cooking with (Meat Edition) Monday February 22nd 7pm – 9pm (call 604-683-2554 to register) $2

Cooking with (Vegan Edition) Wednesday February 24th 7pm – 9pm (call 604-683-2554 to register) $2

Game On Thursday 25th 7pm-9pm Facebook event here:


Lets Grow Gardening Workshop (FREE) March 6th 11-12:30pm

One Mo’ Time (an improvised mo town mock wedding) March 19th 7-10pm tickets are $10 include a drink, bubbly and food. Tickets here:

Cooking with (Meat) March 21st 7-9pm $2

Cooking with (Vegan) March 30th 7-9pm $2

Game on + Cooking with (Vegan) April 21st 7-9pm $2 for Cooking with, Free for Game On

Check out the upcoming or past events here:

While attending an event is great, volunteers at Young Ideas are constantly experimenting with different, novel ideas to see what works and what doesn’t. To them, it is a learning process, the fruits of which are the current events available to the public. If you’re interested in getting involved, please call 604-683-2554, or email

For more information on Young Ideas, please visit:

*Statistics from 2011 census, page 20 of Community Profile 2012, by the City of Vancouver. Link: ** Link:

Free From Fear: Gender-Neutral Restrooms and Inclusivity in Design

By David Cordell

This article original appeared on Ideas + Buildings, the blog of architecture and design firm Perkins+Will. The post is authored by David Cordell. In addition to leading the sustainability efforts of Perkins+Will’s Washington DC office, David has served as a project designer and technical coordinator for Perkins+Will for over nine years. His projects have received multiple awards and have been published in Contract magazine, American Builders Quarterly, and Building Design + Construction.”

In 1951, an American named George William Jorgensen traveled to Copenhagen and underwent sex reassignment surgery. Returning to the States as Christine Jorgensen, she became the first widely known American transgender woman. She worked as an actress and nightclub entertainer, using her celebrity to advocate for transgender people. Sixty-four years later, nearly four million people tuned in to watch the series premiere of “I Am Cait.” The documentary series chronicles the story of Caitlyn Jenner, a transgender woman, after her gender transition. It was the most-watched reality show launch of the year.

Despite countless triumphs in the civil rights movement in the United States over the last six decades, and the recent spotlight on transgender Americans, most still face extreme prejudice and a lack of understanding from the general public.  A 2011 report from The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and he National Center for Transgender Equality stated that 63% of transgender people suffer serious acts of discrimination, including loss of employment and eviction due to bias, bullying from peers, teachers and police, physical assault and denial of medical services.  The rate of harassment increases dramatically in youth, with 78% reporting physical assault and sexual violence at school or home.

Chilling statistics like these illustrate society’s unwillingness to truly accept transgender people and our underlying discomfort with individuals who do not conform to stereotypical male and female categorization. One of the places this is most obvious is restroom facilities in public spaces. Historically, we have segregated restrooms by gender to address concerns over women’s safety. The common public belief is that unisex restrooms leave women more vulnerable to harassment or attack then gender-segregated facilities. However, there is no evidence that gender-segregated restrooms are safer for women than unisex facilities, and we have laws in place in the US protecting occupants from criminal activity on restrooms.  Despite this, gender-segregated facilities continues to be the predominantly accepted method for designing restrooms in public spaces, largely because of how plumbing codes calculate required fixture counts.

Gender-segregated restrooms can create problems for transgender individuals. Images (c) Sam Howzit via Flickr

Why is this important to transgender rights and acceptance? According to the same report, transgender people suffer dramatically high harassment rates in restrooms, with 53% of transgender people reporting being harassed or disrespected in public facilities. The act of choosing a gender when using the restroom, male or female, singles many transgender people out, making them easy targets for harassment. Because of this, many transgender people attempt to avoid using public restrooms altogether, delaying going to the restroom until they are home or limiting the consumption of liquids. Both strategies can result in long term health problems from bladder infection or dehydration.

Legally, transgender people have the right to use the restroom that corresponds with his or her gender identity. In 1993, Minnesota became the first state to ban employment discrimination based on both sexual orientation and gender identity. Since then, there have been a number of rulings related to restroom access for transgender people on federal, state and local levels. In 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ruled that discrimination based on transgender status was a form of unlawful discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which covers sex discrimination, in the landmark case, Macy V. Holden.  More recently, in April of 2015, the EEOC again ruled in favor of transgender rights, determining that the Department of the Army was guilty of discrimination against a transgender employee by barring access to the restroom facilities. The ruling stated that, by denying the defendant, Tamara Lusardi, a transgender woman and employee, access to the women’s restroom and reprimanding her publicly when she did so, the Army had deprived her of “equal status, respect and dignity in the workplace” and was in violation of the law.

Understanding that the traditional approach to restroom design, providing an additional auxillary gender-neutral, unisex room, seems like a reasonable solution to addressing harassment. The problem is that segregating transgender people from the rest of the population by providing a single occupant unisex restroom in addition to multi-person gender-segregated facilities still potentially singles transgender people out, increasing the likelihood of harassment. For this reason, in 2015OSHA published guidelines for restroom access for transgender workers. This guideline states that the best options for designing restroom facilities sensitive to the transgender population are ones that provide one of two scenarios. Option one, facilities with only single-occupancy gender-neutral (unisex) facilities. Option two, multiple-occupant, gender neutral restroom facilities with lockable single occupant stalls.

Opponents will say that both options present some challenges. Multi-person unisex facilities is still a hard sell for many people with current societal norms, although this solution is becoming increasingly popular in restaurant and bar settings. Designing all single-occupant restrooms potentially increases the square footage required for a building core to provide the code compliant number of fixtures, which building owners argue costs them profit by decreasing the rentable area of their buildings. People used a similar argument about the Americans with Disabilities guideline when it was first published.  Ultimately, the courts upheld the decision that all people are to be granted equal access to facilities and employers and business owners are obligated to provide accessible facilities. Now, as then, our industry must evolve our codes and methodology to designing restroom to include all sections of the population.

The reception area at the Whitman Walker Health facility in Washington, D.C. Photographer: Eric Laignel
The Whitman-Walker Health, 1525 Health Center in Washington, D.C. focuses on providing healthcare to the LGBT community, and challenged the design team to create a facility that supported that mission. The team redesigned the standard core restrooms on seven floors to provide all single-occupant restrooms. Providing the required fixture counts in the same footprint was a challenge, but ultimately one that was achievable. Post occupancy feedback from patients regarding the restrooms in the new facility has been overwhelmingly positive, with one transgender patient stating that, for the first time, they had a place to receive healthcare where they did not have to fear harassment or judgment.

Inside Whitman Walker Health. Photographer: Eric Laignel

As design professionals, we are legally obligated to create buildings that comply with health and safety codes. We also have a moral obligation to design spaces that positively impact society. Thoughtfully designing restroom facilities to be non-gendered and thereby helping to challenge social norms and reducing harassment and violence directed at transgender people is simply the right course of action. By engaging owners and tenants in a dialog on the subject, and education them about the facts, we can begin to transform the industry. As professionals we should accept nothing less than designs that offer absolute inclusion and acceptance for all people.



It is Membership season at Gordon Neighbourhood House

Are you a member of Gordon Neighbourhood House? perhaps you didn’t know that we are a membership based organization. You can Join today for only $5. It is an easy way to support the work that we do, and it gives you access to all of our programs as well as gives you access to the monthly 50% off sale at the Attic Thrift Store, currently only at the Davie location, but April 1st the sale will only be available to members at both locations.

Meet Jarret Mckee He is 31 and has lived in Vancouver’s West End for two years now. Jarett is not only a member, but also serves on Gordon Neighbourhood House’s Community Advisory Board. Jarett joined the board in September 2015 at the most recent Annual General Meeting (AGM).

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Jarret’s first experience at Gordon Neighbourhood house was through getting involved with the Young Ideas initiative. Young Ideas members are volunteers that organize events, activities and initiatives. Young Ideas was created as a means of facilitating connection and opportunities for relationship building, with a particular focus on 20 to 39 year olds who live, work or volunteer in Vancouver’s West End. Many aren’t aware that 20 to 39 year olds make up 48% of the West End’s population.

Young Ideas was created as a response to the Vancouver Foundation’s 2012 Connection and Engagement survey that found:

41% of young adults in Metro Vancouver find it difficult to make friends and that  33% say they feel more alone than they would like to be

When asked why everyone should have a membership Jarret’s response was; “Gordon Neighbourhood House is a very unique organization that is invested in all of its community members, it makes a priority of fostering those connections. Being a part of an organization like this is the best way for you to feel connected and significant in your community”

Jarret spoke to the effort of Gordon Neighbourhood House’s staff and  executive director saying ” Their ability to connect with the individuals they serve is what makes Gordon Neighbourhood House special”

If you could offer advice to someone visiting GNH for the first time, what would it be?

Don’t be shy, ask questions because you will get the best possible answer, check out the Attic thrift store and COME BACK!

Come sign up for a membership today!




Reblogged from: Food Secure Canada (

The fall of the Canadian dollar below the 70-cents-US mark is expected to leave Canadians with higher grocery bills. This situation is particularly critical considering that the vast majority of fruits and vegetables eaten by Canadians are imported and that the rate of inflation on food products hit 4.1% today. This puts Canadians in an unparalleled position among industrialised countries.



The goal of zero hunger in Canada

Increased food prices will impact all Canadians, but it is the most vulnerable who will be hit hardest. Food Secure Canada maintains that it is unthinkable that anyone should suffer from food insecurity in a country as rich as Canada.

The International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights, ratified by Canada, gives all Canadians the right to food. Nonetheless, 4 millions Canadians, including 1.15 million children, have trouble putting food on the table.



Diana Bronson, Executive Director of Food Secure Canada, highlighted in media reports that rising food prices will be particularly burdensome for the lower and middle classes, many of whom “can’t find a job that will pay them enough to ensure that they can afford a healthy diet for their families. It’s students. It’s senior citizens. It’s the working poor. It’s new immigrants.”

Indigenous peoples and visible minorities are disproportionately impacted by rising food costs. In Canada’s north, communities face a food security crisis that affects health and wellbeing.

The overwhelming cause of food insecurity is poverty. Strong political will is necessary to eradicate poverty and provide all Canadians with the ability to feed themselves adequate diets.

Sixty-eight percent of households whose main source of income comes from social assistance live in food insecurity. However, the majority of food insecure households (61.1 percent) rely on wages or salaries from employment.

During the Eat Think Vote election campaign, Food Secure Canada, in partnership with Community Food Centres Canada, recommended that the Government of Canada undertake a feasibility study on the implementation of a basic income in order to ensure all Canadians access to sufficient, safe, healthy, culturally appropriate food. Such a measure would guarantee all Canadians the ability to put food on the table by providing an income floor beneath which none could fall.

The price of a healthy diet climbs with the loonie


The price of fruits and vegetables will be especially impacted by the low dollar. Worryingly, these foods are essential for combating diabetes and hypertension, diseases that affect a growing number of Canadians.

Six in ten adults and one-third of children in Canada are overweight or obese, largely due to unhealthy diets. Instilling healthy food behaviours is necessary to reduce hypertension, diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, certain cancers, and other food-related health problems.

Canadians find themselves in a paradoxical situation in which healthy foods that ought to be accessible to all, such as fruits and vegetables, are out of economic reach for many, while those that are damaging to their health are cheap. Inaction in the face of this issue will only exacerbate the current health crisis and lead to higher healthcare costs.

A national food policy as a shield against food insecurity

To give all Canadians access to healthy, affordable and sustainable food, the federal government must develop a comprehensive national food policy.

The election of the new Liberal government has opened up new possibilities around food policy. Prime Minister Trudeau has tasked Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Lawrence MacAulay with developing “a food policy that promotes healthy living and safe food by putting more healthy, high-quality food, produced by Canadian ranchers and farmers, on the tables of families across the country.”


“It’s not something that the minister of agriculture can fix by itself,” says Bronson. “We need all the different departments and all the different stakeholders: industry and NGO’s. And people who are living in food insecurity need to be at the table where the decisions are made.”

The new government must recognize that food policy is intimately related to the fight against climate change, better health, sustainable fisheries, fair trade, the rights of Indigenous and northern people and poverty elimination, among many other important issues.

Food Secure Canada has been working for this commitment since the publication of Resetting the Table in 2011. Five years later, there are good reasons to be optimistic about the future of our food system and a Canadian food policy. However, there remains much to do to ensure that this new food policy guides us toward food sovereignty, zero hunger and a healthy and sustainable food system.

There’s also a renewed sense of collaboration, and the new federal government seems more willing than the previous one to work with a variety of food system stakeholders.

We need to ensure that our key values – zero hunger, healthy and safe food, and sustainable food systems – are the bedrock of the new policy. We need to ensure that food sovereignty, healthy kids, support for sustainable farms and ending the epidemic of hunger in Northern and remote communities are national priorities.

Some Ways you can get involved:

donation button


Young Ideas launches Cooking With

By David Cutting

Malaysian Curry Chicken, Barley Risotto, Root Vegetable Slaw, Blueberry Buckle Cake. Yes it was as delicious as it sounds. On Monday January 18th Gordon Neighbourhood House’s Chef Peter Nguyen lead a group of 9 at Cooking with, a monthly community kitchen that supports young adults in growing their culinary ability.

Food prep

Out of the nine in attendance, four were new to Gordon Neighbourhood House. One of the participants was quick to share that the experience of participating in Cooking With has equipped him with new skills and confidence in the kitchen.

Since this program launched in October it has seen over 30 participants, all  incredibly eager to learn new cooking skills and meet new people. The program costs a mere $2 a person.

This month the recipes came from Goodness: Recipes and Stories, a book that celebrates Canada’s food fighters and features Gordon Neighbourhood House’s Executive Director Paul M. Taylor and Chef Peter. You can purchase a copy of Goodness at Gordon Neighbourhood House for $30, a portion of the proceeds support the work of Gordon Neighbourhood House

Malaysian Curry Chicken, Barley Risotto, Root Vegetable Slaw.

Young Ideas is an awesome initiative that is having incredible success in building community for the vast number of young adults (20-39 years old) that call the West End home. According to the 2011 Census 48% of West Enders are between the ages of 20 and 39. I personally met 5 new people while participating in Cooking With and I am excited to go to other events organized by Young Ideas.


If you would like to reserve your spot for the next Cooking With (Date: February TBA) call us at 604-683-2554, or email us at

If you would like to stay informed about upcoming events and programs hosted by Young Ideas, sign up for event notifications on Facebook HERE

Upcoming Young Ideas Events:

Get Smart: Intro to Coding

January 21st at 7pm Cost: FREE

Ever wondered what all those hackers and web designers are up to when they’re tapping away on their computer? While this class may not make you the next Mark Zuckerberg, you’ll definitely leave feeling like those ones and zeros make a little more sense.

Facebook Event: HERE

Game On:

January 28th at 7pm Cost: FREE

Who doesn’t love board games? Here at Young Ideas we love them so much that we are hosting a monthly games night at Gordon Neighbourhood House. Here you can go from making millions in Monopoly to building a vast empire in Risk.
All you need to do is bring yourself (and friends if you’d like, but I’m sure they’ll have some here for you too), something comfy, and prepare yourself for a ton of fun!

Facebook Event: HERE