Sylvia and Julien in front of their Food Pantry Program

As a Greater Vancouver Food Bank (GVFB) Community Agency Partner, Directions Youth Services provides support to youth from the ages of 12 to 25 years old who are in crisis or experiencing homelessness as a result of abuse, neglect, substance use, or mental health challenges. They have a 24/7 Drop-In Centre with a myriad of wonderful low-barrier programs and services such as a hot meal program, harm reduction supplies and information, Indigenous outreach services, and many more!

Sylvia, their Food Program Coordinator, says that thanks to their partnership with the GVFB, they were able to provide over 29,000 snacks and meals in 2020. In fact, about 75% of the ingredients used to make their dinners and hot breakfasts are from the GVFB.

“Food plays a significant role at Directions. It’s the first step to catalyzing a conversation and building a trusted relationship with our clients,” says Sylvia. For many, food is especially crucial to those experiencing malnutrition or are facing barriers to accessing food resources.

In addition to their main food program, they also created an additional service during the pandemic called “The Pantry Program.” This program stimulates a grocery store experience with a daily point system to empower youth to make their own food choices.

“It’s also important to understand that a meal served can affect someone’s day significantly in a good or bad way, and we try to best ensure that our clients receive food that can brighten their day,” Sylvia notes. From Thai chicken curry to gnocchi, the Directions Food Program provides a healthy mix of culturally diverse meals for their clients to enjoy.

As the Directions Food Program receives limited funding, their meal services could not be sustained without the weekly food distributions from the GVFB. We are so fortunate for the ongoing support of our food industry donors and our financial donors which allows us to distribute healthy food to over 90 Community Agency Partners each week.