DTES Neighbourhood House






Project Title

Drop-in Meal Evaluation

Project Description

Students will evaluate the DTES NH Community Drop-In meal service, looking at the population that is served and unique contextual factors that the program operates within. Recommendations will be made around food storage, procurement, and meal planning. The goal of the project is to provide the NH with tools to improve the nutritional impact of our meal service and ensure we are consistently serving tasty food that reflects the inherent deservedness of our neighbours.

Project Goal

The outcome will be improved meal service at our Community Drop-In program. It will allow us better reflect the food and nutrition-related needs and aspirations of the community we are a part of and serve.

Skills Preferred and to be Developed

Any of these will be an asset:

  • Knowledge of nutrition
  • Cooking skills
  • Knowledge of food safety
  • Knowledge of food procurement strategies
  • Experience interacting with vulnerable populations
  • Understanding of food security issues and right to food

Project Location

The Neighbourhood House is located at 573 East Hastings, but it is likely much of the work can be done off site.

Preferred Days of Week and Hours


Project/Partner Orientation

Students will be provided with an orientation package that covers the organization and food security issues in the community.

Related Community Service Opportunities for Students

We have many ongoing volunteer opportunities and have summer student intern positions available every summer.


A cleared Criminal Record Check (CRC) will be required for working with vulnerable adults and children (this is a specific CRC).

Expected Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

  • I hope students will learn about...

Food security in the DTES, strengths-based community development, and the Neighbourhood House movement.

  • I think students will come to appreciate...

Regardless of their material circumstances, people in the DTES have a keen interest in and passion for food.

  • Students will develop a...

Understanding of the complexity of food insecurity in the DTES.

Organizational Outcomes

  • Ideas to help us provide better food service to our neighbours.
  • Information to help us better articulate our work to funders and supporters.
  • Creative solutions that help us better utilize our limited resources and possibly engage new sources of support.

Organization Information


Vision + Mission

To provide opportunities for residents to meaningfully engage with and contribute to their community in an equitable atmosphere of sharing and learning. The secular, grassroots Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House (DTES NH) embraces people of all ancestries, genders, ages and descriptions; annually welcoming almost 9,000 DTES residents in a community where 70% of our neighbours have low‐incomes, 700 are homeless and 5,000 are under-housed.

Our programming is community inspired and varied, a sampling of which has included a Chinese Elders Community Kitchen, Traditional Aboriginal Community Kitchen, Leadership Development, a Children’s Community Kitchen, Nutritional Outreach Activities (Mobile Smoothie Project and Banana Beat), The Healing Circle, Father’s for Thought, Table Talks project, Family Drop In: Families, Farming and Food, Community Drop-in and the production of a Right to Food Zine.

Those who built the DTES NH put the Right to Food at the heart of our work, as nutritional vulnerability was a theme familiar to all. Our goal around the Right to Food is to reform the nutritional impact, quality, abundance and delivery of food in the DTES in consultation with residents, community food providers, non‐food community organizations, healthcare professionals, policy makers, growers/suppliers, food/beverage industry professionals and researchers.

Guiding Principles + Values

We know food to be a communicative instrument and hence use its offering as an instrument of community building. The average DTES resident lives with one or more serious health issues, has a compromised immune system and is under-housed. Coupled with extreme material poverty, the lack of adequate housing renders people incapable of providing themselves with adequate nutrition. Typical housing quarters provide one small room with no cooking facilities or storage for foodstuffs. Many of our neighbours live in Single Room Occupancy units (SROs).

The average DTES diet consists of a of starch (in the form of white rice and pasta); copious amounts of tasteless coffee garnished with coffee whitener (an addictive petroleum by-product) and refined sugar; endless soup; day old pastries and donuts; dishes made with an alarming amount of taste enhancing chemical additives; and processed foods. These ‘foods’ do not support positive health outcomes for our neighbours, but remain omnipresent in our community. What is not found in the average DTES diet is local, seasonal, fresh produce; sweets which are healthy (eg dates and figs); dishes made without additives and refined sugars; homemade vinaigrettes; alternatives to dairy products; and generally speaking fresh, identifiable foods. These are the things that the Neighbourhood House works to make available for our neighbours.

When one is materially poor, the first things lost are privacy and choice. Offering people a choice of the foods they ingest is a critical piece of the NH food philosophy. It’s a commonly held myth that those living in poverty don’t have nutritional knowledge or aspirations.

Primary Contact

  • Contact Person(s): Rory Sutherland
  • Email: ed@dtesnhouse.ca
  • Address: 573 East Hastings
  • Phone: 778-828-5574
  • Website: dtesnhouse.ca
  • Best time(s) method(s) to contact: Email
source: https://wiki.ubc.ca/Course:LFS350/Projects/F2018/dtes-neighbourhod-house/