7. DTES SRO Collaborative Society – Knowledge Translation


DTES Food Sovereignty Co-operative

Organization Name

DTES SRO Collaborative Society


Related Course Concepts

Food justice, Food security, Asset based community development, Social class/income inequality, Gender and/or sexual orientation, Cultural identities, Racism, Colonialism, Indigenous food sovereignty

Organization Information

Organization Name

DTES SRO Collaborative Society

Mission and Vision of Organization

The DTES SRO Collaborative (SRO-C) was established in 2017 to organize with SRO tenants in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and Chinatown. Our mission is to promote the wellbeing of tenants living in SROs on unceded Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam territories. The DTES SRO-C wants to put SRO tenants front and center in the housing and public health movements, with the goal of inspiring, educating, and transforming our community in positive ways. This includes looking to improve habitability, safety, and housing security in single room occupancy hotels. Tenant Overdose Response Organizers (TORO) was our first tenant organizing project and has been supported by Vancouver Coastal Health for the last four years. The SRO-C estimates that ⅓ of tenants are Indigenous in hotels. The Indigenous model of community organizing practiced by the SRO-C focuses on the four directions: the physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional aspects of the people that we encounter. The SRO-C understands many of those living in the DTES are disconnected from their homelands, family, cultural duties, and way of life. Areas for particular concern regarding food security for SRO tenant population groups include: -Seniors -Very low income tenants in receipt of welfare, disability and pensions -Tenants with mobility constraints and underlying health conditions who have difficulty accessing food -Indigenous Elders -Youth -Chinese dialect speaking seniors who are linguistically isolated -Under-resourced private hotels -Buildings with peers who are advocating for and participating in food programming -Private hotels where there are suspected cases and/or outbreaks of COVID-19

Guiding Principles + Values

Harm Reduction, Decolonization, Dignified Housing As with our other work, our long-term objectives for food sovereignty in the DTES are framed by Indigeneity and decolonial praxis. We believe that Indigenous food sovereignty consists of: Dignified food programming Indigenous governance Allowing service users to have a key role in decision-making and programming Culturally appropriate food A right to healthy food A right to traditional food Respect for land and animals Connection to food production Opportunities to gain life stills and certificates to gain skills and empowerment Some food being distributed through circles and feasts

Contact Information

  • Primary Contact Person(s): Jill Ratcliffe
  • Email: [[1]]
  • Phone: 7788884607  
  • Address: 628 Keefer Street, Vancouver
  • Website: https://dtescollaborative.org/

Preferred Method of Contact

  • Best method(s) to contact: Email
  • Best day(s) to contact:Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays
  • Best time(s) to contact: Mornings

Preferred Platform(s) for Remote Collaboration

  • Email, Phone, Zoom
  • None

Project Description

Context: What challenge or issue does the project aim to address?

The SRO Collaborative (SRO-C) is working with a coalition of community members and grassroots organizations to create the DTES Food Sovereignty Co-operative, a food security network in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES), and are working to secure a physical hub as our basis of operations. This centralized hub will allow us to better respond to heightened food insecurity in our neighborhood by enabling a secure stream of healthy, culturally-appropriate food for SRO-C and partner agency programming. Establishing such a space is also the first step towards our broader vision to create a new community food system framework built on decolonial, Indigenous principles. Linkages to good quality food through relationships with local farms, urban gardens and indigenous hunters will ensure access to culturally appropriate foods available for DTES residents. Links with Food Mesh and food reclaim programs will support the volume of food required to supplement our programs. Community identified needs include: space to process and preserve traditional meats; bulk food sourcing for a network of neighbourhood community kitchens; walk-in refrigeration and freezer; space to pack grocery hampers and health supplies deliveries and pick ups; accessible public space that is multilingual and barrier free; culturally safe space for ceremony; a commercial kitchen; and programming space for training and education.

Main Project Activities

Health, social and geographic research research quantifying DTES food needs and changes in DTES food ecology in the wake of COVID-19. Using a multitude of sources including census data, DTES food security studies, and VCH stats students will be asked to explore the what and the why of food security work in the DTES. Participatory research qualifying DTES food security needs, along with changes in DTES food ecology in the wake of COVID-19. Using SRO-C participatory research models, surveys with local community members and groups to support our infrastructural development with necessary research.

Expected Project Deliverable(s)

  • TBD Knowledge Translation/ Information Sharing

Intended Project Outcome

Enhanced community participation in the development of the DTES Food Sovereignty Cooperative. Support for building economies of scale toward dignified food programming for the DTES neighbourhood.

Student Assets and Skills (preferred or required)

  • Harm reduction lense Decolonial praxis Solid writing skills Keen to research

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

  • Harm reduction lense Decolonial praxis Awareness of DTES food ecology

Are there any mandatory attendance dates (e.g. special event)?

  • No

Is a criminal record search (CRS) required?


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

Preferred Days of Week and Hours

Mondays and Fridays

Related Community Service Opportunities for Students

Service delivery and supplies packing

Required Reading

Project/Partner Orientation Materials

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

Additional Project/Partner Orientation Materials

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

Expected Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

I hope students will learn about...

  • harm reduction

I think students will come to appreciate...

  • the DTES neighbourhood

Through this project, students will develop...

  • ability to do intersectional community based food justice work

Organizational Outcomes

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

  • Decolonizing our food system
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source: https://wiki.ubc.ca/Course:LFS350/Projects/F2020/SROCollaborative1