Ray-Cam Cooperative Centre: Farm to Family on the Downtown Eastside






Project Summary

Title: Farm to Family on the Downtown Eastside: Connecting Children and Families to Fresh Local Food

This project will continue our ongoing efforts to address food security in the Downtown Eastside community. Students will work alongside our peer mentor at Ray-Cam Cooperative Centre to contact local farms and build relationships with farm owners in hopes of accessing fresh and healthy excess food on farms that may otherwise be thrown away.

Organization Information


Ray-Cam Cooperative Centre

Mission + Vision

Ray-Cam Co-operative Centre’s mission is to encourage and support community members to utilize their strengths and gifts in the improvement of day to day life of the community. Ray-Cam operates and manages our community centre as well as multiple partnership programs. We offer childcare (pre-school and school-aged) programs with a diverse population including a high participation of urban Aboriginal children. We offer programming and recreational access and support to seniors, teens and families. Ray-Cam Co-operative Centre has a long history of community work and our operations are based on a series of partnership arrangements. The centre opened in 1976 and was the result of the collective vision, energy and commitment of local residents, wanting a safe place for their children and a food co-op to ensure access to healthy, affordable food. We are located in the Downtown Eastside – Strathcona neighbourhood and along the Hastings Corridor of the inner city of Vancouver. The Centre is operated by two associations with volunteer boards of directors 90% of whom live in the community.

At Ray-Cam we see hungry children daily, many of whom have not had a complete meal in over a week, and often have limited access to fresh fruit and vegetables. Many children have been diagnosed as malnourished, or suffering conditions related to malnourishment and hunger. Seniors in the area face similar challenges as their limited pensions do not stretch to accommodate adequate food purchases after their rent is paid. Ray-Cam offers food access in all programs to those in need, but the goal is also to build capacity, skills and employability of local community members in the area of food acquisition, storage and preparation and delivery throughout all centre programs. The food programs at Ray-Cam provide children and families with year-long access to food. These include the Empty Cupboard – which provides a family with emergency grocery bag(s) of food, the backpack program for kids that provides a weekend backpack filled with healthy food items and a few parent cooking programs that gives families a hot meal throughout the week. All Daycamp and children’s activity programs as well as our licensed childcare programs and family programs provide access to food. There are weekly and daily hot lunches and breakfast programs on weekends and seniors have weekly meal programs. Over 1400 different individuals benefit from food security programs at Ray-Cam.

Guiding Principles + Values

  • To encourage community capacity building through access to fresh and healthy food
  • To approach food security from a community capacity building lens
  • To provide access to fresh and healthy food on an ongoing basis to members of our community

Primary Contact

  • Contact Person(s): Carin Rahmberg, Rebecca Bartlett
  • Email: carin.rahmberg@vancouver.ca, Rebecca.bartlett@vancouver.ca
  • Address: 920 E. Hastings
  • Phone: 604-257-6949
  • Website: www.raycam.com
  • Best time(s) method(s) to contact: Email

Project Description

This project will continue our ongoing efforts to address food security in the Downtown Eastside community. Students will work alongside our peer mentor at Ray-Cam to contact local farms and build relationships with farm owners in hopes of accessing fresh and healthy excess food on farms that may otherwise be thrown away. Students will advise farmers of the Farmers Food Tax Credit to further incentivize farmers to donate excess food and produce. Students will also investigate transportation logistics concerning the delivery of food, any costs associated with accessing food and will develop an inventory system to track farms who are interested in partnering with Ray-Cam.

Goals of the Project

  • To contact local farms and ask if farmers may be interested in partnering with Ray-Cam in supplying excess fresh food to the community centre. Farmers may be contacted by phone, email or in person at local farmers markets
  • To establish positive relationships with farmers so long-term sustainable partnerships can be established between Ray-Cam and potential farms moving forward.
  • To work out the logistics surrounding food delivery and distribution (costs, regularity of access, etc.)

Skills Preferred + To Be Developed

  • Community level analysis of food, nutrition and hunger in children, youth, families and seniors.
  • Agricultural and farm-based distribution knowledge
  • Knowledge of the inner city of Vancouver and the needs for food security in our community

Project/Partner Orientation

During the first Flexible Learning session (Monday, January 20th, between 1-4pm), students can come into Ray-Cam prior to beginning their project to meet staff and become oriented with the space and organization as a whole.

  • Students are welcome to volunteer in one of our many family and or youth programs to gain a better understanding of what we do here at Ray-Cam. Volunteering will also provide context for the importance of food and food security on the Downtown Eastside.
  • Ray-Cam serves and incredibly diverse population of families and individuals. Students should approach Ray-Cam with an awareness and sensitivity to cultural differences they may observe when working in the community and must be able to respect many different ways of knowing and being.
  • 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… the magnitude of food security of the Downtown Eastside and the importance of accessing fresh and healthy food for low-income families and individuals
  • I think students will come to appreciate… the rich social and cultural diversity of our community and the range of talents, skills and abilities present within community members
  • Students will develop an…. Ability to approach their work from a community capacity building lens

Organizational Outcomes

  • Established relationships with local farms and farmers
  • Ongoing access to fresh and healthy food from these farms
  • Active integration of fresh and healthy food into the everyday lives of community members and in our weekly programs
source: http://wiki.ubc.ca/Course:LFS350/Projects/W2018/RayCam