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Assessing the availability and use of kitchens for community food programming


Organization name: City of Vancouver Social Policy Department – Food Strategy Implementation Team

Mission of organization: Creating a system for producing, processing, distributing, and consuming food that is environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable is a City of Vancouver priority. The Food Strategy helps the City address Vancouver’s food challenges and align the food system with broader City plans and processes through five main goals:

  • Support food-friendly neighbourhoods
  • Empower residents to take action
  • Improve access to healthy, affordable, culturally diverse food for all residents
  • Make food a centerpiece of Vancouver’s green economy
  • Advocate for a just and sustainable food system with partners and at all levels of government

For more information on the City of Vancouver’s Food Strategy, visit

Description of project opportunity: The Vancouver Food Strategy and the Greenest City Action Plan call for an increase in food assets by a minimum of 50% over 2010 levels by 2020. Among these food assets are publicly-accessible kitchens. These are sometimes used for community food programming such as “community kitchens”, cooking classes or skill-building workshops. In some cases, they are used for commercial activities (e.g. catering, start-up businesses, or large-scale meal provision).
The condition of kitchen facilities is highly variable and affects what type of foods or programming can be provided, as well as how many people can participate. As a result, there is need for an assessment of the types, locations, the state of kitchens, and experiences of kitchen staff. The research will be used to assist in making infrastructure and capacity / coordination recommendations.
The project will be to visit and assess the type, condition, and use of publicly accessible kitchens. The project will also require analysis and recommendations based on the findings, to improve the use and quality of kitchen programming.

  • Kitchens to be contacted and visited will include those that are or may be available for community food programming at locations other than city-facilities such as community centres, neighbourhood houses, and family places. These sites would include religious and cultural spaces, YWCA, Union Gospel Mission, etc.

Skills required:

  • Strong verbal communication skills
  • Organized and able to work independently
  • Able to use Microsoft Excel
  • Understand kitchen basics / know how to cook
  • Understanding of sustainable food systems, and role of food in community development processes
  • Additional assets: Food Safe training, experience cooking with or facilitating a Community Kitchen, knowledge and connection with social facilities (e.g. churches, religious sites)

Skills to be developed through the opportunity:

  • Kitchen assessment skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Interviewing and communication skills

Project location: Each student group will be assigned one or more neighbourhoods. Many of the neighbourhoods to be visited will be on the East-side of Vancouver. Bus service is available.

Days of week and hours project will take place?: Timing is flexible based on student and facility schedules.

Primary contact for the students:
Sarah Carten, Social Planner, City of Vancouver
Phone: (604) 871-6031


Learning outcomes:

  • How a municipality engages with public food assets in order to promote a healthy, sustainable and just food system.
  • The breadth of community food infrastructure and programming available in specific neighbourhoods in Vancouver.
  • The challenges and opportunities of providing food-based programming.

Organizational Outcomes:
The research will allow for better decision making about support for existing and future kitchen facilities and programs through:

  • Baseline research on existing kitchens used by different agencies including kitchen condition and current usage
  • Identification of opportunities and barriers for improving the use of kitchen facilities for community food programming purposes as well as for food businesses.