2012 Christmas Dinners in Vancouver

December 22:

24th Oppenheimer Park Film Industry Dinner (Alexander & Dunlevy Street) – starts at noon

December 20-24:

The Dugout (59 Powell) – treats & carolling at Gastown Steam Clock, 6-8:30pm
Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House (501 East Hastings) – starts at 11am

December 25:

The Salvation Army Harbour Light (119 East Cordova Street); 10am -2:30pm
Carnegie Community Centre (401 Main Street); 5pm until all food is served tickets at information desk; $1.00 yearly membership required.
First United Church (320 East Hastings Street); lunch from Noon – 1pm
St. Mark Anglican Church (1805 Larch Street, at 2nd Avenue, in Kitsilano); noon– 1:30pm
The Dugout (59 Powell Street); 6-8:30pm or until all food is served
Potter’s Place Mission (21 East Hastings Street); 11am – 11pm
The Door is Open (373 East Cordova Street); 11am -2pm

January 6:

The Dugout (59 Powell Street) Epiphany Orthodox Christmas Dinner: 6 -8 pm (Tickets available)

For Women & Children Only:

December 11- YWCA Crabtree Corner (533 East Hastings Street); from 2pm until all food is served. Dinner and a gift. For women, children & men with children only, who are Crabtree Corner participants from the past 6 months.
December 18 – Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre (44 East Cordova Street) Three Seatings, starts at 12:30pm; Dinner & Santa Claus Visit. Tickets handed out at 10am, Dec. 14th.

Put Down that Can of Food: Eight Better Ways to Donate!

Holidays just aren’t holidays without food and friends. And, every December, charities wisely ask us not to forget the poor – often by appealing for donations of non-perishable food items or cash for Christmas baskets and free public meals. But food “charity” can do more harm than good.

A measure of emergency food relief will always be needed to meet immediate crisis needs. Yet, as sociologist Janet Poppendieck reveals in her devastating book “Sweet Charity? Emergency Food and the End of Entitlement,” when stopgap programs like food banks and soup kitchens become our default responses to hunger and malnutrition, we unintentionally reinforce the root causes of poverty and reward an inefficient food system. Poverty grows and so does the cost of feeding the poor, even while the quality of food reaching the poor goes down.

Poppendieck calls for better public policy. In British Columbia, public health authorities, local governments like the City of Vancouver, and foundations are stepping up to the plate. Their most important policy change so far is to support community-based initiatives that are cultivating local, sustainable, and equitable food systems – “from seed to compost” – that aim to end hunger among the poor while yielding food security for us all. (To learn more about food systems and food security, check out Planted’s webpage of resources.)

Here is where your charitable donations and volunteer effort come in. A system is only as powerful as the energy put into it. Funding from governments and grantmakers is not nearly enough to sustain growth of the community-based initiatives in metro Vancouver. And no amount of money can achieve the transformation that happens in us and the poor – and therefore in our neighbourhoods and society – when all of us regardless of social status share our selves in growing, preparing, and eating food together.

So this holiday season consider these eight ideas for joining the movement to end hunger. We give a few examples of each to get you started.

1. Support volunteer community gardens that grow produce for charities and/or offer garden plots and education for low-income people: Richmond Sharing Farm, The Edible Garden Project, A Rocha Community Garden Network.

2. Underwrite community shared agriculture (CSA) farms that supply a weekly box of fresh produce to vulnerable people and charities: FarmersOn57th, Fresh Roots Urban Farm, Red Clover Farm, Kingfisher Farm.

3. Donate money or equipment to community kitchens, which satisfy hunger for food and friendship while teaching nutrition and culinary skills: CityReach’s EduKitchen, or find one near you through Fresh Choice Kitchens, a program of the Greater Vancouver Food Bank.

4. Give to one of Planted’s partners, which facilitate community meals and other programs that blur the distinction between hosts and guests, food providers and food consumers, building on the stengths of everyone.

5. Host a Fair Share Dinner for your friends and family: enjoy some delicious food while raising awareness and funds for food security in your community.

6. Cater your Christmas party with a social enterprise that employs marginalized people: Banqueting Table, H.A.V.E. Catering, JustCatering, Potluck Catering

7. Support more nutritious food and community jobs while overhauling the food system of one of Canada’s poorest neighbourhoods: Downtown Eastside Kitchen Tables.

8. Capitalize on the power of neighbourhood food networks to leverage the assets of your community: Burnaby Food First, Grandview Woodland Food Connection, Renfrew-Collingwood Food Security Institute, Richmond Food Security Society, Village Vancouver, Westside Food Security Collaborative.

New Planted Video – Working Together for Food Security

For us, December is all about raising awareness about food security.

We are excited about the launch of our first program, the Fair Share Dinners. We also created a fun, little animated film to introduce folks to the issue of food security.

Now, watch the video, and leave a comment with your thoughts about food security in your community – and if you have a minute to spare, please share on Twitter and Facebook.