Food Insecurity Hits Hardest for Youth on Vancouver Streets
27 February, 2018
On March 7, 2018, Directions Youth Services will tackle Vancouver’s food insecurity problem with a unique event. A Night in the Life offers Vancouverites a glimpse into the life of a homeless youth, while raising funds and awareness about the food insecurity challenges they face.
“Food security is one of the most basic human rights,” says Marnie Goldenberg, Director of Youth Services. “This includes the ability to obtain a safe, personally acceptable, nutritious diet. But it’s really hard to secure healthy food on a limited budget–especially for youth on the streets. Even if they do get it, where do they store it? How will they prepare a meal? Meeting basic nutritional needs is a daily struggle, and food that doesn’t sustain them seriously undermines their ability to tackle other concerns such as employment or housing.”
Last year alone, the Directions Youth Services 24-hour drop in centre served 49,621 hot meals and snacks to homeless and street-involved youth–a record amount. But the food program has felt the devastating impact of the city’s increased living costs. It relies heavily on donated food and volunteer hours to provide consistent and nutritious food to vulnerable youth. For many young people, this is the only healthy meal they’ll eat in a day.
“Food is so crucial to the work that happens at Directions,” says Directions Food Program Coordinator, Mette Bach. “It’s how outreach workers start a conversation with youth on the streets. Youth come in for a meal and have a chance to bond with staff. This eventually leads to youth feeling comfortable enough to ask for support in other areas such as counselling, detox, housing, education and employment.”
“As a community, we must work toward maximizing healthy choices, self-reliance and equal access,” says Goldenberg. “So we’re inviting Vancouverites to spend an evening with our youth to witness some of the barriers they face, and hopefully feel inspired to enact change.”
At A Night in the Life on March 7, participants will experience downtown like never before on a short tour guided by a youth experiencing homelessness and our staff. They’ll eat a typical meal we prepare for youth in our drop-in centre, and then participate in a homelessness simulator game in which they have 90 minutes to secure food, shelter and income while assuming the identity of a youth. Finally, they will spend the night sleeping outside on Burrard Street.
A NIGHT IN THE LIFE – EVENT DETAILS
What: A Night in the Life is a fundraising event which includes a youth-led walking tour, homelessness simulator game and sleep out on Burrard St. Registrations or donations can be made at www.anightinthelife.ca. All funds raised will support the Directions Youth Service food program. Media is welcome to attend.
Where: Directions Youth Services Centre, 1138 Burrard St (across from St Paul’s hospital) When: March 7, 2018, 7pm start
ABOUT DIRECTIONS YOUTH SERVICES
Run by Family Services of Greater Vancouver, Directions Youth Services is a collection of services and locations supporting vulnerable youth. This includes a drop-in centre, outreach teams, pre-employment programs, two safe houses, and a youth detox centre. The trauma-informed and client centred philosophy creates safety for youth to access a full spectrum of supports including primary care, mental health and substance use resources.