Vancouver Food Strategy + Resilience: Food Distribution






Project Summary


Conduct an analysis of a the resiliency of the City of Vancouver, focusing on food distribution.

Areas of Focus

  • Resiliency
  • Food distribution
  • Municipal food system policy


  • Urban food system analysis
  • Literature reviews
  • Interviewing
  • Site observations

Background Information

Mayor Gregor Robertson welcomed an announcement from 100 Resilient (100RC) selecting Vancouver among the final cohort of international cities invited to join the network of 100 cities at the forefront of building urban resilience. As a member of the 100RC Network, Vancouver will gain access to tools, funding, technical expertise, and other resources to build resilience to the social, economic and environmental challenges of the 21st century. Importantly, funding from 100RC will enable us to appoint a Chief Resilience Officer, to lead the development of a citywide Resilience Strategy. 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) is a program pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation that helps a network of cities gain access to tools, funding, technical expertise, and other resources to build resilience to face 21st-century challenges. Natural and manmade shocks and stresses from urban growth will continue to hit the world's cities. 100RC is about preparing and acting to strengthen our city economically, environmentally, and socially.

What does resilience mean?

As defined by 100RC, "urban resilience is the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses, and systems within a city to survive, adapt, and grow, no matter what kind of chronic stresses and acute shocks they experience." Stresses are day-to-day or cyclical issues like affordable housing, crime, transportation, and social inequity. Shocks are events like fires, floods, and earthquakes. Slower-force stresses can harm cities just as dramatically as one-off events. By looking at shocks and stresses together, and planning for them as a whole, the 100RC partnership aims to assist cities in increasing their governance, operational, and strategic capacity to:

  • Proactively address their vulnerabilities
  • Learn from experiences
  • Adapt to change

Organization Information


City of Vancouver Social Policy Department – Food Strategy Implementation Team


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

Primary Contact

  • Sarah Carten, Social Planner, City of Vancouver

Project Description

Beginning with the publication, The Resilience of America's Urban Food Systems: Evidence from Five Cities, students will adapt the Urban Food System Resilience Framework to investigate food distribution capacity in Vancouver.

Groups will conduct on-line research to determine the strengths and vulnerabilities of Vancouver's food distribution networks and their relative capacity for sustaining the city population in event of a disaster. Students will identify and interview three key stakeholders and/or experts to situate findings and recommendations on strategies for increasing Vancouver's food system resiliency.

Skills Preferred

  • Strong verbal communication skills
  • Organized and able to work independently
  • Understand urban food distribution networks
  • Ability to articulate municipal and regional food system components, both physical and social
  • Understanding of resiliency, sustainable food systems, and role of food in community development processes

Skills to Be Developed

  • Urban food distribution resiliency analysis
  • Municipal food system analysis
  • Observational and analytical skills
  • Interviewing and communication skills

Preferred Days of Week and Hours

Timing is flexible based on student and facility schedules.

Experiential Learning Opportunities

  • None available for this project although students are encouraged to volunteer at a the Vancouver Food Summit

Expected Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Student will be able to...

  • Articulate how a municipality engages with public food assets in order to promote resiliency and a healthy, sustainable and just food system.
  • Describe the breadth of food distribution networks and how they contribute to municipal resiliency
  • Conduct an municipal food-related case study and communicate results back to municipal stakeholders

Organizational Outcomes

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

  • Baseline research on food distribution networks in the city
  • Identification of opportunities and barriers for improving resiliency through food distribution networks