Community Drop-in (Mondays [10am-noon], Wednesdays [10am-2pm], and Fridays [TBA]
Family Drop-in: Families, Farming and Food (Tuesday and Thursday)
Kids Community Kitchen (Sunday afternoon)
Tuesday Night Food Prep (Tuesdays, 7 pm to 9:00 pm)
Chinese Elders Community Kitchen (Thursday Mornings)
Nutritional Outreach (Welfare Tuesdays and Welfare Wednesdays)
Fathers for Thought (Monday 7-9 pm)
(Mondays [10am-noon], Wednesdays [10am-2pm]
Program Lead: Shannonq@dtesnhouse.ca
The Community Drop-in is the most attended of our programs. The Community Drop-in Program itself is home to a variety of activities, including Blender Nutrition, our weekly Community Kitchens, Right to Food initiatives, and the Kitchen Table Stories Program.
During the Community Drop-in, our neighbours have the opportunity to mingle with other local residents and gain some respite from the charity model that permeates the DTES. Our neighbours can participate in the cooking process, either on Tuesday nights, regular volunteering in the Community Drop-in or through participation in any of the Community Kitchens.
One of the key goals of the Community Drop-in is to simply animate a space that our neighbours recognize as being very much their own – it is a space that belongs to the community. As the Neighbourhood House was created by local residents, we are keenly aware of the ways in which our neighbours feel most welcome in a way that “charitable” spaces often cannot. We avoid and are critical of food line-ups. Food is made available and prepared freshly over the hours during which the Community Drop-in is open.
The food that is prepared is based on our food philosophy: it is diverse and has the ingredients listed for all to see. We avoid foods that are overly processed or high in starch, refined sugars, or sodium.
Family Drop-in: Families, Farming and Food
Tuesday and Thursday 3:30- 6:30
Program Lead: Molly / 604-215-2030
The Family Drop-in program (FDI) works to serve the needs of the population of families who exit the YWCA’s Crabtree Corner (a few doors west of us) at 3 pm, as well as school-age children who return to the DTES from the Strathcona and Britannia Public Schools soon after.
One of the key aims for the Family Drop-in is to improve the determinants of health for families and children in our community through a program emphasis on food literacy, healthy meal preparation, culinary exploration, and urban farming practices. This is a program that not only works to mitigate the effects of material poverty now – by providing access to healthy food – but also in the longer term as participants acquire the skills to prepare and grow nutritious food based on their socio-economic and housing realities. The families (children, youth and caregivers) who participate in the Family Drop-in work with staff and volunteers to farm our indoor and outdoor urban farm.
Participants applaud the FDI for the welcoming environment and the respectful culture, in which there is no competition or strife between families of differing ancestries. Most participants are materially and nutritionally vulnerable and live with a multiplicity of other physical/mental health complexities such as diabetes, hepatitis C, recovery from substances, HIV, mood disorders, attention deficit disorder, autism, fetal alcohol syndrome, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Most of the children who access the family drop-in are equally as challenged by the same barriers as their adult counterparts.
We use this ‘cross-pollination’ between adult and FDI programming to remind our family-centred neighbours that the world is their oyster and their deservedness inherent, as the demands and strains of family life can often lead to isolation and the sense that one’s world is solely defined by the demands of the day.
The Family Drop-in includes weekly visits from early years librarians who offer interactive story time sessions, using stories, songs, rhymes, and movement activities to stimulate children’s interest in reading. The librarians also make sure that children and adults secure library cards.
Right to Food Zine
The Right to Food (RTF) Zine is published approximately every three months. Our articles include everything from original research and interviews to recipes, poetry, and kids pages. The Zine’s mission is to promote the human right to food that is healthy, nutritious, affordable, and presented with dignity. Our voices reflect the diversity that is the Downtown Eastside. Our articles, research, and recipes speak to DTES residents, social justice groups, and beyond. We are part of the local community and strive to act as a community-building tool.
Interested in contributing to the RTF Zine? We’re always looking for original articles, artwork, or ideas that reflect the right to food. Let us know who you are at email@example.com or introduce yourself at the Neighbourhood House during operating hours (ask for Anna).
Kids Community Kitchen
Sunday afternoons – Lead is Rachelh@dtesnhouse.ca
On Sunday afternoon, the Kids Community Kitchen is always a hub of activity at the DTES Neighbourhood House, with an average of 20 participants each week. While the young ones are engrossed with culinary and nutritional games, their parents/caregivers either watch food related films (both documentaries and fiction films) or take part in conversational English.
The Neighbourhood House also introduces children to the use of the humble blender and courts their nutritional imaginations with delicious smoothies.
Tuesday Night Food Prep
Tuesdays, 7 pm to 9:30pm
Program Lead: firstname.lastname@example.org / 604-215-2030
Join us on Tuesday nights as we work to animate a night of food prep. Our neighbours in the DTES and friends from outside of the DTES work together to prepare healthy and nutritious food that is made available to participants in the Community Drop-in the following day.
The DTES NH’s Tuesday Night Food Prep partners with a team of volunteers from Jen’s Kitchen. Since 2004, Jen’s Kitchen has engaged in weekly food outreach with several of the nutritionally vulnerable survival sex trade workers in our community.
If you’re interested in getting involved in either of these initiatives, feel free to get in touch with us for more details.
Chinese Elders Community Kitchen
In collaboration with the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre
Chinese Elders in our community often face isolation. The Chinese Elders Community Kitchen is a key initiative that works to combat this, by providing a space for community building and the sharing of recipes. This program is run in partnership with the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre. It brings together Chinese elders in the DTES, who participate weekly in a community kitchen at the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House.
To observe this program is to witness the true magic and cohesion that is built as a result of participating in community kitchens with your neighbours.
Welfare Tuesdays and Welfare Wednesdays
Program Lead: email@example.com / 604-215-2030
The Banana Beat and the Mobile Smoothie Project are two initiatives that aim to provide essential nutrients on the days that low-income residents of the Downtown Eastside are least likely to have access to nutrition.
Banana Beat operates on “Welfare Wednesdays” (or cheque day). The first Banana Beat was held in August 2006, and continues to operate to this day, bringing nutritional wealth (in the form of potassium and other nutrients) as well as dignity and the reminder of inherent deservedness to hundreds of our neighbours who line up in the pre-dawn hours, awaiting the opening of offices to access their Social Assistance payments. Created by the DTES NH, the Banana Beat remains one of our most cherished vehicles for grassroots community consultation and development.
In February 2009, the DTES NH instituted our Mobile Smoothie Project, which was designed to foster community development and to attract those of our neighbours who might never attend our more traditional Community Kitchens. The Mobile Smoothie Project visits a number of partner organizations for approximately 30 minutes every Welfare Tuesday (the day before cheque day). As people mingle and socialize around this low tech activity, the humble blender delivers both a concise nutritional lesson and delicious smoothies to all.
The Mobile Smoothie Project regularly stops at the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, The Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU), the Chill Room of InSite, and Oppenheimer Park.
These programs were born of the collective life experience of DTES NH program participants. Through the Banana Beat and the Mobile Smoothie Project, we’re able to offer quality ingredients to Vancouver’s most nutritionally vulnerable population, along with a dignified mode of delivery.