Vancouver Foundation

Fall 2013

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Greenest City Community Grants The food desert of Vancouver's west s While South Granville is known for its designer shops, live theatre and award-winning restaurants, affordable produce can be hard to find by jeanette leblanc | photos vincent l. chan Populated by many seniors, some of whom have been living in the area for decades, the South Granville area of Vancouver is known for its designer shops, live theatre and award-winning restaurants. Yet despite the many draws to this area, you'll be hard pressed to find affordable produce. South Granville – in fact, Vancouver's entire west side – is considered a "food desert." "I first came to this area in 1998," says Elizabeth, a longtime resident of the west side. "Between 10th and 11th avenues on Granville Street, we had a baker who had been there since the '20s, a butcher, a green grocer, and across the street we had a little hardware shop. Then they were all taken out and replaced with designer shops." After pausing to reflect, she asks, "What happened to us?" Food deserts are areas where physical and financial barriers prevent some residents from accessing healthy food. Marcia, another west side senior, says, "The next grocery store within my budget is far away. If my arthritis flames up and I am feeling achy on a day I need to go shopping, I have to pop painkillers to be able to actually go." South Granville is just one area in Vancouver like this. If you view an aerial map of the city, you can see large swaths where there are no grocery stores at all for residents in the area. The Westside Food Collaborative is working to address food access issues for locals like Elizabeth and Marcia. Earlier this year, the group teamed up with the South Granville Seniors Centre to launch a pilot initiative – the Westside Mobile Food Market. The first of its kind, the mobile market delivers fresh, affordable fruits and vegetables to seniors who would otherwise have a hard time accessing fresh produce. From July to September, the mobile market would set up each week at the South Granville Seniors Centre and then in Marpole Place Neighbourhood House. The group initially organized community consultations to assess the specific needs of the west side by working with local advisors and residents. "I knew we had the power and energy to make this happen," says Zsuzsi Fodor, community co-ordinator with the Westside Food Collaborative. "It's beyond what I could have imagined." For Fodor, who has a master's degree in urban food planning, the goals of this project are twofold. "We definitely want to meet the immediate food access and food security needs of the folks who are coming to the market. We also want to use it to tell the story of what's been going on in South Granville and other west side neighbourhoods to heighten the awareness, and challenge the perception that the west side is full of people who have means and don't need this kind of organizing." page 26 I Vancouver Foundation l Fall 2013 p26-27 Westside Food Market.indd 26 13-10-11 1:38 PM

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