26. RayCam CC – Food Security in the DTES







Project Title

Sustainable Solutions to Food Security in the Downtown Eastside

Organization Name

Ray-Cam Community Centre


Food security, food insecurity, poverty, meal program, nutritional analysis, program evaluation

Related Course Concepts

Food security, Asset based community development, Social class/income inequality, Colonialism

Organization Information

Organization Name

Ray-Cam Community Centre

Mission and Vision of Organization

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 Indigenous 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 neighborhood 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.

Guiding Principles and Values

The following Principles and Value Guide all of the work we do here at Ray-Cam

1. Capacity Building: A capacity-building approach develops programs and activities based on the capacities, skills, and assets of residents and their neighborhoods, providing opportunities for individuals to enhance and use their own abilities.

2. Place Based: A place-based approach assures that programs come from the community, are accessible in their neighborhood or surrounding community area, and fit in with community values and style.

3. Community Engagement: Relationships and understanding are built through sharing experiences and developing opportunities to work together for the common good.

4. Reconciliation: Incorporates the aspirations of urban Indigenous people for active inclusion and meaningful participation in the neighborhoods and city in which they live. Reconciliation is inclusion, engagement, listening, collaboration and commitments to make a change and working differently to be inclusive and reflective. It is about creating a new culture together.

5. Inclusion: Including and reflecting the wise variety of community members who choose to make this community home. To provide opportunities, programs and services; to help create a sense of neighborliness: and to strengthen, support and assisting the positive growth of individuals, family and community life. Inclusion is about building community.

Contact Information

  • Primary Contact Person(s): Rebecca Bartlett and Carin Rahmberg
  • Email: rebecca.bartlett@vancouver.ca and carin.rahmberg@vancouver.ca
  • Phone: 604-257-6949
  • Address: 920 E. Hastings, Vancouver BC
  • Website: http://www.raycam.com/

Project Description

We would like students to look at our food program here at Ray-Cam and conduct an analysis of the following items:

  • nutritional value of food provided within programs
  • overall cost of food per program/per person in the centre, how many people we are feeding a day, and where costs/food provided within programs can be streamlined
  • identify gaps in programs and services regarding food security and access to food for the community (what needs are not being met for community members in terms of access to meals and snacks)

If time allows, we would also like students to come up with a questionnaire that can be administered within the community exploring how much community members rely on Ray-Cam for their food security and to develop a working definition of what food security means to Ray-Cam and the community.

What challenge or issue does the project aim to address?

Ray-Cam currently provides snacks and or meals in all of our programs and many community members ad families rely on the food served in these programs for daily sustenance. We would like to see if and how we can streamline our food program both to better serve the needs of the community and to build a more sustainable model of food security that is realistic for our budgetary constraints.

Student Assets and Skills (preferred or required)

  • An understanding of the impacts of colonization and intergenerational trauma on urban Indigenous populations
  • An understanding of the social, economic, political, historical, systemic and institutional factors that perpetuate cycles of poverty and access to opportunity (social, economic ect.)
  • An understanding of the impact of race, Indigeneity, gender, sexuality, ability, socioeconomic status, and many other markers of identity, in shaping every individuals daily lived reality and experiences of power and oppression as this relates to food security.

Student Assets and Skills (to be developed through the project)

  • Develop an understanding of the Downtown Eastside-Strathcona neighborhood and the impact of food security, or lack thereof, on the daily lives of community members
  • Develop an understanding of the multifaceted nature of services and supports within a community organization

Is a criminal record check required?


If a criminal record check is required, when should the process be initiated?  

Prior to the first community partner meeting

Project Location

Ray-Cam Community Centre

Preferred Days of Week and Hours

  • Tuesdays from 3:00-5:30 PM
  • Wednesdays from 9:00-11:30 AM
  • Fridays 2:00-6:00 PM

Project/Partner Orientation Materials

Students should review these materials prior to the first partner meeting:

  • Request the relevant past LFS350 student reports from your TA

Additional Project/Partner Orientation Materials

The following will be provided at the first community partner meeting:

  • Building tour
  • In-person community orientation
  • Volunteer manual

Related Community Service Opportunities for Students


Expected Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

I hope students will learn about...

  • the impact of colonization on poverty and present day food security challenges

I think students will come to appreciate...

  • the vibrant and thriving community that is the Downtown Eastside

Through this project, students will develop...

  • empathy, compassion and understanding of the lived realities of families living in poverty and trying to pay rent, feed their children, and keep their lives afloat on a day to day basis.

Organizational Outcomes

Intended Project (Short Term) Outcome

  • In general, Ray-Cam is trying to figure out how we can continue to meet the food security needs of the community while operating on a budget that does not match the rising cost of food. The students research will add much-needed evidence-based insight into nutritional quality of the food we are serving at our centre.

Medium Term Outcomes

If the student project is part of a larger project at your organization, how will the students' work contribute to the goals of this larger project?

  • We are looking to develop a sustainable food model that feeds the community within our financial constraints.
  • We hope the students' research helps us develop a working definition of what food security means to the community in relation to Ray-Cam (i.e. what role do we play in maintaining food security for the community).

How does the student project contribute to your organization's mission and long-term vision?

  • The students' project contributes to our mission of providing access to recreational, educational, social, cultural and economic programs which advance opportunities and abilities for community members, especially children and youth, and enabling them to make successful and fulfilling life choices.
source: https://wiki.ubc.ca/Course:LFS350/Projects/F2019/Ray-Cam