Grocery, meal programs for Vancouver Downtown Eastside set up

THE City of Vancouver on Monday pointed out that due to the risk of COVID-19 spreading through vulnerable communities with high rates of poverty and homelessness, many residents are experiencing even more difficulty accessing food.

Many service providers have scaled back on meal production, or changed their service-delivery models to reduce the risk of transmission to community members, which has led to many people being unable to find low-cost or free-food options.

The Food Security and Access team, which is part of the City’s COVID-19 Community Resilience Branch, is working on a number of scalable programs that will improve access to healthy and regular meals on a daily basis. These programs will focus on residents who are marginalized and/or made more vulnerable through the crisis, including those who are in self-isolation, ill or can’t have their needs met because services are diminishing.

The City said it is also seeing a growing number of private enterprises stepping up to help local charities continue to feed those in need. There has been a generous donation of two weeks’ worth of food from the Giustra Foundation for catering to 210 people in Single Room Occupancy hotels (SROs) in the Downtown Eastside. Visit Give a Hand Vancouver for details on how to get involved.  

“We want to ensure there is an adequate supply and distribution of food to individuals who no longer have access as a result of COVID-19,” said Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart. “To address the growing demand, staff are working closely with non-profit partners and service providers to understand how their needs are changing while ramping up meal and food delivery operations. We are also asking the public to donate to the organizations listed on the meal map  during this time of crisis.”

Park Board and City staff are coordinating production and delivery of hundreds of daily meals and hampers of food for seniors and tenants most vulnerable to COVID-19, including those in self-isolation, across 11 City-operated SROs and non-market housing sites. This work is being coordinated by a team of City and Park Board staff utilizing the kitchens at Langara and Fraserview Golf Course club houses. Staff at both kitchens are also prepping food for Carnegie Community Centre and the Gathering Place, as both sites are seeing increased demand on meal programs.

The City also approved two weeks of funding to deliver food to private SROs in an effort to support vulnerable populations to stay physically distanced or isolated. Contracts worth $100,000 each were signed with Vancouver Community College and Potluck.

“VCC has been part Vancouver’s fabric for over 50 years and we have a long-standing relationship with this community that needs additional support. With the world class professional kitchens and tools at our downtown campus, we are pleased to help our neighbours and friends,” said Ajay Patel, VCC President and CEO. “Our culinary staff, cleaners and leadership teams have worked tirelessly over the past week to roll this out very quickly with the City. VCC is proud to do what we can in this uncertain time.”

The City’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre (QET) site and the Park Board’s Mount Pleasant Community Centre (MPCC) site were mobilized this week to support the Greater Vancouver Food Bank continued operations.

Hours of operation:

·       QET: Tuesday and Wednesday: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

·       MPCC: Thursday and Friday: 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

The Food Security and Access team continues to reach out to community networks to understand needs and capacity to offer support.

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