This is the latest in the series of reports “Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside: Past and Present.” The Downtown Eastside is a neighbourhood with multiple social issues.
For this episode we spent time with the food programs of Watari Counselling and Support Services Society. We visited the community gardens and spoke with some volunteers. Gardening, they say, is therapeutic. The vegetables they grow are cooked by more volunteers in their community kitchen.
We also visited its food hamper distribution hub and spoke with Eloina Alberto who is the food security coordinator for Watari. Watari actively fundraises as well as receives food donations to complete this goal. People can request food hampers from Watari, and Handy Dart helps out with deliveries.
After the hampers, we spent some time in the community kitchen and then went out on the street as meals are handed out to those who are hungry.
Each visit made it clear to us that Watari also serves as a hub for its volunteers to gather and support each other. Some, for reasons of privacy, requested that they be identified on a first-name basis only.
To date Watari has served 39,235 hot meals and prepared 2,826 food hampers.
Watch the full series here.
Jase Tanner has worked in the film industry for 30 years where he frequently serves as a shop steward. During this time he’s been active in social justice issues and has produced a handful of short, web-based documentaries.
Emma Gregory recently graduated the Langara journalism program. She is interested in animals, agriculture, power dynamics, and the difference between free trade and fair trade. She believes that she is being spied on by her computer, but only for the mundane purpose of market research.