Chinatown Cares gets groceries out to senior citizens and at-risk community members in the Chinatown and Strathcona community in the face of COVID-19.
Social distancing, restaurant closures and local grocery stores running out of stock are making it difficult for local Chinatown residents, particularly those with limited means and mobility to find options for groceries.
A group of community organizations and members came together ten days ago to address this need by helping to source, package, and deliver “Care Packages” - boxes full of culturally-appropriate grocery staples - to these community members. These will be sourced from small local businesses to help support them through this period of decreased business due to COVID-19.
Who we are:
Yarrow Intergenerational Society for Justice - https://www.yarrowsociety.ca/
Project role: Servicing their network of 300+ Chinese seniors. Working with other frontline organizers, building managers, and senior service networks. Contributing staff and volunteer time towards this project, including planning, aggregation of orders from seniors, multilingual outreach, support with deliveries, and project outreach.
Bao Bei Brasserie - https://www.bao-bei.ca/
Project role: Supporting the project with food industry and scale experience. Ordering from green grocers/suppliers, fridge and space usage, space for packaging of individual orders.
Hua foundation - www.huafoundation.org
Project Role: Contributing staff time for project management, administration, financial tracking, organizing infrastructure, building project systems and processes, funding.
Chinatown Today - https://www.chinatown.today
Project Role: Fundraising, and logistical support.
VanCity Credit Union - www.vancity.com
Project Role: Contributing staff time to support build out of project, funding support, and advice.
Our first delivery to five Chinese seniors starts Monday, March 30th. We are anticipating that this service will become in demand once more seniors hear about this service so the project team has built scalable systems from aggregation of orders, ordering from local Chinatown groceries, packaging, and delivery. We have worked through both segment specific challenges such as language barriers, reliance on phone and in-person dissemination of information (as compared to internet usage), and cash based systems (instead of credit cards and online payments). We also have built in safety protocols for COVID-19.
To ensure that the seniors are not paying for additional costs that they would normally (and willingly!) pay for their groceries, we are asking for help.
Your donations will support, for at least 4 months:
1. Yarrow Intergenerational Society’s outreach capacity to service seniors, accept new clients, and ability to receive orders for Care Packages. $5,000.
2. Cover the cost of weekly deliveries. For the first couple of weeks, the deliveries will be completed by volunteers but we would like to cover their delivery related costs (gas, parking). Once the project delivers to 30+ seniors, we will be paying a project member to deliver all the Care Packages. This will reduce the points of contact and mitigate the chance of spread of COVID-19. $2,000
3. Purchase of sanitation and Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for team members handling the grocers and making deliveries. $1,000.
4. Other project costs such as bags for packaging and other supplies. $1,000
5. Marketing and communications of the project so we can scale out the project to those in need with a physical mail-out campaign, production of posters, and delivery to other segment-serving organizations and partners. These materials will be in Chinese and also made available in English. Outreach and dissemination of these materials will be supported by community partners, including City of Vancouver’s Emergency Response Team. $1,000
6. An additional $4,000 to Yarrow would bring on one more part-time staff for two months as we adjust to this COVID-19 situation and unforeseen urgent needs that arise. We, as a fundraising group, want to see if we can cover the entire amount of their expanded capacity so they can focus on outreach to Chinese seniors beyond just for this grocery delivery project, instead of spending time and resources fundraising on their own. Seniors need support with education around COVID-19 best practices, picking up prescriptions, consistent check-ins during social distancing, amongst other services that are a result of COVID-19.
7. An additional $6,000 to support this project for a third and fourth months. This includes compensation for one dedicated project coordinator, team member(s) receiving & packaging, and delivery. This will allow funds from other sources to be redirected to other Chinatown initiatives such as a prepared meal service in collaboration with the City of Vancouver, and a multilingual translation project for educational materials and resources around COVID-19. Currently there isn’t a scalable production of culturally appropriate meals; Chinatown groups, including ones involved with the grocery delivery are looking into how to start up this capacity. There also isn’t a lot of translated materials into non-English languages to help community members make informed choices (e.g. why social distancing is important, and where they can reach out for help).
The funds raised will be directed to hua foundation to administer, including redirecting to Yarrow to support their increased staff capacity to support seniors in these times.
We anticipate that this project's costs will be supported by government and other funders after two months. This fundraiser is to help us get the delivery service up and running before the funding from these other sources open up.
We work in solidarity with similar funds in Vancouver.
Help COVID-19 Coming Together - Vancouver - an organized network of volunteers that funds between $25 to $100 to those in need to cover groceries, rent and basic needs. Please donate what you can and share widely, they need our support. https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-covid19-coming-together-vancouver
DTES Response: a coordinated groundwork effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the DTES Vancouver. Please donate what you can and share widely, they need our support. https://canadahelps.org/en/dn/m/47375
Black in BC Community Support Fund for COVID-19: this Black community support initiative is a fundraiser for a low-barrier, emergency, micro-grant program for Black people in the Metro-Vancouver, and more broadly, the British Columbia, Canada area. Please donate what you can and share widely, they need our support. https://www.gofundme.com/f/covid19-black-community-support-vancouver
We recognize that this work takes place on the traditional, ancestral, unceded and occupied territories of the Coast Salish peoples, including the three title-holding Nations: the xʷməθkʷəyəm (Musqueam), Skxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səlílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh). This land was never relinquished by these Nations to Canada or British Columbia through a treaty or other means; it is sovereign and unsurrendered.
溫哥華位於海岸薩利希原居民的土地上。海岸薩利希原居民包括：xʷməθkwəy̓əm（Musqueam 瑪斯昆族）、Skwxwú7mesh（Squamish 斯闊米什族）、Səl̓ílwətaʔ/ Selilwitulh（Tsleil-Waututh特斯勒爾‧奧圖斯族）。這些原居民從來沒有放棄自己的領土。
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do the Chinatown Care Packages work?
We have reached out to not-for-profits involved in the Chinatown and Strathcona community that work with fixed income seniors and at-risk community members to identify demand for Care Packages.
With this demand understood, team members order, assemble a standard box of Care Packages and deliver them weekly to those who need them.
2. What’s in a Care Package?
The Chinatown Care Package is a box that includes enough groceries for a week. Typical contents might include: a bundle of bok choi, a napa cabbage, tomatoes, lo bak/daikon, apples, oranges, and bananas. As we scale out the program, we may include protein and dairy as well.
3. Who is involved with this initiative?
This project includes community partners from hua foundation, Yarrow Intergenerational Society for Justice, and local food business owners, and builds upon existing networks and relationships within the Chinatown/Strathcona/DTES neighbourhoods. VanCity Credit Union is also supporting the project.
4. What steps are being taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19?
Volunteers preparing and delivering groceries will wear disposable masks and gloves. Deliveries will be dropped off at the door and volunteers will not enter peoples’ homes. Volunteers will stay socially distanced when preparing boxes.
We have also built custom COVID-19 safe solutions for handling cash from seniors (they are able and wanting to pay!). This solution was needed since the majority of seniors do not use credit cards and are not connected to online banking.
5. How can I contribute?
You can make donations via this gofundme page or via a direct Interac e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In-kind donations of personal protective equipment (PPEs such as masks, gloves, cleaning supplies) would also be highly appreciated.
6. How can I get involved?
Currently the project team members, including existing volunteers, are able to implement this project. However, as the program grows, we will communicate with project supporters and the public on emerging needs and ways to help out.
For those looking to build their own grocery delivery system, hua foundation is producing a ‘how-to guide’ for neighbourhood based initiatives that want to replicate this project for their networks.
About the fundraiser (required by GoFundMe)
Who you are and where you’re from: My name is Justin Fung. By day, I work in tech as a senior software development manager. By night, I am an organizer and activist for various local interests. Vancouver, BC, Canada
Your relationship or contact to the parties you're raising funds for: I'm a volunteer working closely with Hua on fundraising for the Chinatown Cares project. I am not part of Hua foundation or the Yarrow society, although I count many of the individuals in these organization as friends.
How the funds will be spent (be specific as possible): This is outlined above.
Your withdrawal plan to get the funds from the campaign to the ultimate beneficiary/ies: Funds will be withdrawn from the fundraiser into my personal bank account and I will be writing a cheque to the not-for-profit group Hua foundation who will distribute funds for this project to cover the cost of the groceries and logistics.
- Winson Lam
- Sharnelle Jenkins-Thompson