Public Health and Urban Nutrition Research Group awarded CIHR grant to work with Vancouver’s Food Banks

In February 2015, a research team lead by Jennifer Black was awarded $200,000 by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research’s Population Health Intervention Research funding program for a project titled: “Evaluating the Impact of the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society’s Food Hub Programs on Dietary Intake and Food Security”.This project brings together diverse researchers from the University of British Columbia (Jennifer Black, Nathan Lauster and Gail Hammond) and Simon Fraser University (Scott Lear, Nadine Schuurman and Charles Goldsmith) who will work closely with the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society (GVFBS) as they transform their delivery model. Having developed a food philosophy that will set nutritional standards for food banks, the GVFBS is currently implementing a ‘food hub’ program that will provide opportunities for members to select foods from a healthier array of offerings, and engage with diverse agencies who provide health promotion, nutrition education, and social service referrals. Through enhanced partnerships with local farmers and gardening programs, members are also able to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at subsidized prices.

This project will involve trainees from the Public Health and Urban Nutrition Research group, including Ellie Holmes. Ellie, a registered dietitian pursuing a MSc in Human Nutrition at UBC, is helping to lead the development and analysis of key survey tools for this project.
The evaluation of this intervention will inform the transformation of the food banking system in Vancouver. In the long-term, findings will provide valuable insight about how food banks across Canada could leverage longstanding infrastructure and trusted community relationships to better meet broader health equity and community food security goals.