Vancouver Coastal Health: Food Literacy Photovoice

Group Blog

Project Summary

Vancouver Coastal Health wants to explore the impact of school gardens and food literacy activities on the learning, attendance, social and mental health of secondary school students. Students involved in this project will use Photovoice, conduct focus groups with secondary students, and transcribe and analyze the results. This project is especially relevant for students majoring in applied plant and soil sciences, food and the environment, and food nutrition and health, and/or who want learn more about photography, food literacy, social and mental health, and engaging with youth.

Organization Information


Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), Public Health Nutrition, Child and Youth Program


Public Health Dietitians work with public health staff, parents, caregivers, school staff, and community groups. They support healthy eating and the enjoyment of multicultural food by:

  • Encouraging the sharing of food with family and friends,
  • Advocating for food security including sustainable food systems, and
  • Promoting healthy attitudes about food, eating, and body size.

C&Y Public Health Dietitians provide support to:

  • Assist the school in assessing their school food environment and addressing their school’s healthy eating goals.
  • Support the work of staff, parent and/or youth healthy eating committees.
  • Support the development of school policies related to food and healthy eating.
  • Work with schools to plan food literacy initiatives such as Farm to School, classroom food preparation and school gardens.
  • Consult regarding the implementation of the Guidelines for Food and Beverage Sales in BC Schools (e.g. food service, fundraisers, vending machines, school events).
  • Provide professional development workshops (e.g. school healthy eating assessment / planning process).
  • Provide healthy eating resources (e.g., Canada’s Food Guide, Nutrition Month posters, lesson plans about food, nutrition, body image, gardens, etc).
  • Help school staff find appropriate nutrition services for students (e.g. eating disorder services, nutrition counseling).

Primary Contact

  • Name: Vanessa Lam, RD Public Health Dietitian
  • Email:
  • Address: 2110 W. 43rd Avenue
  • Phone: 604-261-6366 ext 3343

Project Description

The Public Health Dietitians have submitted a proposal for the VCH Research Challenge, which supports front-line staff to conduct a small research project. The proposed project will explore the impact of school gardens and food literacy activities on the learning, attendance, social and mental health of secondary school students. This project will allow LFS students to learn about the use of Photovoice research methodology with secondary school students in which photography will be used as a vehicle to visually communicate their experiences. Students will be involved in conducting focus groups and transcribing results as part of the research process.

Skills Preferred

  • Interest in teaching and working with youth
  • Interest in mental health and food literacy
  • Strong oral and written communication skills
  • Basic facilitation knowledge
  • Patience and flexibility

Skills to Be Developed

  • Leadership
  • Problem solving
  • Photography
  • Facilitation
  • Interview skills

Project Location

Project will take place in 1-2 secondary schools in Vancouver as well as orientation time at VCH office or at school site. Bus service is available.

Preferred Days of Week and Hours

Planning meetings may be on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays between 9-4pm. Youth sessions will be on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays after school around 3:30-5pm.

Experiential Learning Opportunities

To be determined, based on student availability.

Expected Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Student will be able to...

  • strengthen their facilitation and teaching skills
  • gain knowledge of using Photovoice Methodology in research
  • gain an understanding of the relationship between mental health and food literacy activities

Organizational Outcomes

VCH will gain...

  • resources to support the gathering of data for VCH Research Challenge project
  • strengthened partnership with UBC LFS to continue collaborating around food related projects
  • greater understanding of the UBC LFS coursework and student learning