Gathering stories and experiences about food security and nutrition health from Immigrants & Refugees Settling in Canada


The Immigrant Services Society of BC (ISSofBC) wants to better understand the needs and perspectives of newcomers to Canada about food, nutrition, diet and food security in order to inform future programs and services. Students working on this project will interview ISSofBC clients and develop materials, resources and worksheets for future workshops based on the results. Interviewing will take place on flexible learning days in the general area of the Edmonds Community Resource Centre in Burnaby, accessible by several buses. This project is especially relevant for students majoring in food and the environment or food, nutrition and health and/or who want to learn more about food cultures, food security, and food sovereignty. For this project, you need to be able to work with marginalized people in an inclusive manner. Throughout the project, you’ll learn about the challenges of food security/access faced by newcomers to Canada and will have the opportunity to contribute to the design of support programs.

Full Project Description

Gathering stories and experiences about food security and nutrition health from Immigrants & Refugees Settling in Canada

Organization name: Immigrant Services Society of BC (ISSofBC)

Mission of organization: Immigrant Services Society of BC (ISSofBC) is the oldest not-for-profit immigrant serving agency in BC (formed 1968, incorporated 1972). With the mission of “Helping immigrants build a future in Canada,” ISSofBC's mandate is: to deliver educational, settlement and employment services, develop partnerships with local communities and to promote an integrated and equitable community. Today, ISSofBC is one of the largest multicultural immigrant serving agencies in Canada, serving over 30,000 immigrants & refugees annually. ISSofBC provides a wide range of services for immigrant clients including settlement in over 45 languages, ESL language classes, employment services for immigrants & employers, community connections, and targeted supports to children, youth, refugees and women. ISSofBC has over 400 staff located in 17 sites throughout Metro Vancouver, Squamish, Kamloops and Oliver, and 1000 active volunteers.

Description of project opportunity: We would like a group of students from the Department of Land and Food Systems to interview newcomers and vulnerable individuals that engage with ISSofBC to help us better understand their needs and perspective with regards to food, nutrition, diet, and food security. The themes that emerge from the interviews will inform the development of strategies and a series of short workshops on nutrition, diet and healthy eating in Canadian context for newcomers. Students would also develop materials, resources and worksheets to be used for the workshops.
This project will provide students with the opportunity to understand the needs and perspective of newcomers and vulnerable population with regards to food, nutrition, diet and food security through focus groups.

Skills required:

  • Nutritional and food security knowledge (ideally with (or interested in) a cross cultural perspective)
  • Good communication skills, both written and spoken
  • Ability to work with diverse persons with limited English where patience and kindness is needed.

Skills to be developed through the opportunity:

  • Interview and qualitative data analysis skills
  • Cultural competence
  • Leadership
  • Problem solving
  • Application of nutritional and food security knowledge in a cross- cultural context.

Project location: Project will take place at the ISSofBC office at the Edmonds Community Resource Center and several locations nearby. There are several buses that pass by the center that go to the skytrain at Edmonds in Burnaby and/or New Westminster.

Days of week and hours project will take place?: Wednesdays from 12:30pm to 4:00pm.

Primary contact for the students:

  1. Thea Fiddick, Manager Settlement Services Burnaby
    Address: 7355 Canada Way, Burnaby, BC
    Phone: 604-395-8000 ext 1631
  2. Jennifer York Senior Manager Settlement Programs-Vancouver.

Learning outcomes:

  • Research and design a qualitative process for capturing participant stories and experiences on food security and nutritional health in a Canadian context for newcomers, including vulnerable populations with limited to no English language skills, that will be used by non-health care professionals for settlement workshops
  • connect classroom learning of concepts and theories with real life examples
  • articulate personal and professional significance in the learning experience

Organizational Outcomes:

  • a better understanding of our clients/members knowledge of nutritional and health from a cultural perspective
  • a more informed understanding of assets in our organization and in our community
  • a better ongoing relationship with the university.