Downtown Eastside Kitchen Tables Project

Downtown Eastside Kitchen Tables Project

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Last Update: September 11, 2012

The Downtown Eastside Kitchen Tables Project, a program of the Potluck Cafe Society, is a community based Food Action Plan to reform the quality, nutritional impact, abundance and distribution of DTES food. It replaces the unsustainable charity food model with Community Economic Development, creating jobs for low-income residents. We work in consultation with DTES residents, food providers, sister organizations, health care providers, policy makers, farmers/growers, researchers and food industry professionals. The DTES Kitchen Tables Project is based on the Right to Food philosophy, which means the Human Right of our neighbours to secure water and abundant, quality food, distributed in a dignified manner.

Type: hybrid

The Problem

In Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES), the paucity of nutritious, quality food delivered in a dignified manner leaves 1000s of people (from infants to elders) nutritionally vulnerable, defying their Right to Food and taxing the health care system with issues easily addressed by access to secure water and abundant quality food. In 2009 we confirmed the commitment of Food Providers (both secular and faith based) to reform the current, unsustainable charity food model by working collaboratively to bring efficiencies and coherence to the Downtown Eastside, together creating a holistic DTES Food System.

The Solution

This reform minded Project addresses the issue of food from seed to compost and uses a Community Economic Development model to create jobs with built in employment support for DTES residents who face barriers to traditional employment, thereby providing our neighbours with the opportunity to emancipate themselves and their families from multigenerational material poverty. Our grassroots work has contributed to the growing number of DTES residents who themselves champion their Right to Food.


Food Solution No. 1: Creating Nutritional & Food Quality Standards - Our DTES Nutritional Standards are a public education tool and support the work of Food Providers, Food Banks and Food Recovery systems Food Solution No. 2: Menu & Recipe Development - Creating creative, tasty and nutritious meal options for residents and organizations. Food Solution No. 3: Effective Food Procurement -Supporting DTES Urban Farms so that healthy, fresh food is affordable to residents while educating Food Donors about DTES Nutritional Standards Food Solution No. 4: Food Preparation & Processing - Creating employment opportunities in the food system that focus on the preparation and processing of food. Food Solution No. 5:Food Distribution - Ensuring DTES food is served with dignity in an expanded network of distribution points across the DTES Food Solution No. 6:Professional Food Industry Expertise - Menus & kitchens guided by creative Chefs Food Solution No. 7:Greening DTES Kitchens -DTES Food Providers and sister organizations reduce garbage by composting and recycling


The Downtown Eastside Kitchen Tables Project also enjoys the active support multiple collaborators including healthcare providers, policy makers, community organizations, growers, supplier and food and beverage industry professionals, who have vivid, firsthand knowledge of this Project’s corollary benefits for the mental, emotional, physical, intellectual and spiritual health of Downtown Eastside residents.

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