Nourishing a neighbourhood: the DTES Neighbourhood House

The Downtown Eastside (DTES) Neighbourhood House has become a second home to Sabrina, her husband and her three children.

When she and her family moved to Vancouver from Alberta they were in a bad place. Sabrina was struggling with her health due to diabetes and it was difficult to feed herself and her children healthy meals. But then she was introduced to the DTES Neighbourhood House and their nutritious whole food meal program and her health began to turn around.

“Having a real meal made from real ingredients and not processed sugars has really helped me bring my weight down and combat it,” said Sabrina. “It’s helped bring me out of depression and anxiety because of the respect and care they give us.”

The DTES Neighbourhood House feeds 200 people twice every week plus 450 people monthly with their mobile smoothie program. Having proper kitchen appliances that can keep up with the demand of their community is vital to their program and Central City Foundation helped fund the purchase of a new commercial stove and freezers.

The Neighbourhood House opens their doors to people in the community who want to participate in preparing food for the community meals and also host learn-to-cook programs for children, teaching them the value of preparing nutritious meals.

“We exclusively offer meals that embrace the whole food philosophy and foods that probably couldn’t be found elsewhere in the Downtown Eastside for free,” said Benita Ho, DTES Neighbourhood House Board Member.

Central City Foundation has partnered with the DTES Neighbourhood House for over a decade, providing funding for an air conditioner, storage and furnishings for children, furnishings, security and building renovation upgrades, and funding equipment for the mobile smoothie program. Funding the new kitchen equipment is part of our mission to help individuals and families live vibrant, healthy lives.

“Central City Foundation has been great partners to us over the years,” said Ho. “They funded our big item appliances, which has profoundly changed how we do our service.” 

For Sabrina, the DTES Neighbourhood House has helped change her life and improve her health immensely. It’s also given her an opportunity to come out of isolation and find community.

“It is a closer knit community than I would have thought from the stories I’ve heard,” said Sabrina. “I’ve met great people and it’s nice to be able to say hi to people in the neighbourhood.”