The number of homeless throughout the world is growing by leaps and bounds and governments at all levels have no clear answer to the problem, nor do they express much interest in resolving it; it falls therefore to private groups to fill such gaps in services.

The homeless on the streets of Vancouver have been the subject of press articles on many occasions. This 'blight' on an otherwise attractive city is a serious problem and was the main reason why Vancouver was downgraded to second most desirable city in the world (after Vienna, Austria). It is becoming more serious as the 2010 Winter Olympic Games approach and the reputation of the city in the eyes of the world could be seriously affected by the continuation of this problem.

City Council's insane response to the problem was to FINE those who begged on the streets downtown ..... it would not be judicious to express an opinion in writing on that reaction .....

It is therefore up to the public at large to resolve the problem, with the help of humanitarian funds.

There are many Church or religious missions providing relief, but almost always in conjunction with the teaching of their own brand of religion, which falls short of true spirituality at the moment. For many of them this assistance affords a cover for increasing their membership. We will not fund this approach.

In Vancouver there is no shortage of volunteers to fill posts.


There are numerous non-profit groups attempting to help, some church based, some community based. Our project is on a much wider scale, starting with the production of wholesome meals in a central kitchen, then delivering them to the homeless in areas of the cities where they congregate. Existing organisations could be a help in distribution, depending upon their stated purpose.

The following organisations have been, or are being, examined to ascertain the scope of their current activities and as a possible future help in distribution"

1. Street Angels:    5th floor 56 E 2nd Ave, Tel: 604-224-2217
4th Floor, 343 Railway St. Vancouver, BC V6A 1A4, Canada. Tel: 604.224.2217
Street Angels is a Vancouver-based, volunteer-driven grassroots international aid organization. It helps impoverished women in the slums of Brazil keep their children off the streets, safe at home, healthy and in school. Our efforts are concentrated in Dona Aurora, a small shantytown on the outskirts of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil (Eastern South America, bordering the Atlantic Ocean).

Since 1988, Street Angels has been working to:
  • Develop education and health care programs for children and their families
  • Eliminate child labour by creating alternate sources of family income
  • Strengthen marginalized communities and defend basic human rights
  • Increase public awareness about the exploitation, abuse and murder of children who are forced by poverty to live and work in the streets

In 1988, three ordinary people - Miriam Ulrych, a Canadian social worker on holiday in Brazil, Luiz Barbosa, a local cab driver, and Josefa Santos, a domestic worker - joined together and committed themselves to keeping as many children as they could off the streets of Salvador, Bahia, Brazil. From these early seeds has grown an amazingly efficient grassroots network spanning Brazil, Canada and the UK.

2. The Franciscan Sisters of Atonement: 85 East Cordova Street, Vancouver, BC V6A 1L4 Tel: 604-685-9987. Website: http://www.graymoor.org/sisters/. Involved in religious education, social welfare, community development programs, pastoral, hospital and prison ministries, home visitation, adult day care, child day care and kindergartens, youth ministry, justice and peace work and guest and retreat house ministries.

3. EAT! Vancouver, The Everything Food and Cooking Festival is all about food and the cooking of it, while the Union Gospel Mission is devoted to the gathering of food and its redistribution to those in need. EAT! Vancouver and UGM's partnership last year lead to the gathering of well over $40,000 in cash and food of all kinds to help alleviate some of the hunger that exists on the streets of Vancouver and the Lower Mainland."

4. Streetwise Partners: Website - http://www.streetwisepartners.org/ Pair low-income participants with volunteer mentors to increase their employability through a rigorous job training program. A useful contact for a later stage of the overall program.

Extract from EASTSIDE ANGELS: - 5. First Nations Street Church Vancouver: 175 E Hastings St TEL: 604-681-1910
This church is located on the toughest block of the Downtown Eastside. What once was a beer parlour is now a place of worship. The Street Church reaches out to the homeless, drug addicts, prostitutes and other needy residents of this community. It provides free meals, Bible studies and a variety of outreach programs to the needy. The Street Church welcomes cash donations, as well as food and clothing to keep its ministry going. There is also a need for more volunteers to help reach out to the community.

First Nations Street Church, PO Box 88627, 18 Main St, Vancouver BC V6A 4A7 Phone: 604-681-1910 E-mail: papajoemcgillis@msn.com

Food on the Corner Society: PO Box 19053, 1153 - 56th St, Delta BC V4L 2P8 E-mail: foodonthecorner@telus.net Website: www.foodonthecorner.org
This Christ-focused ministry started about 25 years ago with just one pot of soup. Now there are over 500 people who line up each Saturday morning at the corner of Main and Powell in Vancouver for a bowl of soup and a hamper of fresh fruit and vegetables. This ministry is made up of volunteers from a variety of churches across the Lower Mainland.

Quest Outreach Society PO Box 2156 Stn Main, Vancouver BC V6B 3V3
Warehouse: 1217 East Georgia St, Vancouver BC V6A 2A9
Phone: 604-602-0186 Fax: 604-682-3494 E-mail: questor@telus.net Website: www.questoutreach.org
Quest Outreach Society rescues food from being sent to landfills and distributes it to the hungry on the streets of Vancouver. It assists more than 45,000 people each month.
  • Make a donation of nonperishable food
  • Donate funds to pay for food and services
  • Volunteer to help serve
  • Organize your church to collect food
  • Volunteer for meal preparation in the kitchen of St. James' Anglican Church.

Salvation Army - Harbour Light 19 East Cordova St, Vancouver BC V6A 1K8 Phone: 604-646-6800 Fax: 604-682-1673 Website: www.harbourlightbc.com

The Salvation Army Vancouver Harbour Light is dedicated to the recognition of the dignity and worth of people - where God's love is demonstrated in a practical way - through integrated holistic programs that attend to the physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being of the individual. Included in these programs is a daily feeding ministry for men, women and children; an emergency overnight shelter; Cordova Detox; a 90-day alcohol and drug residential treatment program; in-house work experience, therapeutic mentoring and job training; computer-assisted education/literacy programs; the McCready Residence (44 self-contained, affordable housing units) and a community church, the "heart" of Harbour Light Ministries. The Harbour Light welcomes cash donations, as well as donations of towels, bedding, toiletries, men's socks, etc. They feed approximately 700 people a day so volunteers are most welcome to assist on the food line. Much prayer is needed from everyone!

6. Street Ministry Agape: 887 Keefer St Tel: 604-215-4115

7. Street Nurse Programme: Tel: 604-660-9695

Downtown Eastside Women's Centre: 302 Columbia St, Vancouver BC V6A 4J1 Reception: 604-681-8480 Fax: 604-681-8470 E-mail: info@dewc.ca Website: www.dewc.ca

The Downtown Eastside Women's Centre is a drop-in centre established in 1978. For 20 years, the centre has provided a safe place for women and children living in a neighbourhood now referred to as "Canada's poorest postal code." Many Downtown Eastside residents experience violence, drug abuse, low self-esteem, illiteracy, racism and classism. To alleviate the impact of socioeconomic disadvantage, the centre provides for basic needs in conjunction with long-term support. The most crucial service they offer to impoverished women of the Downtown Eastside is a safe place. As a facility for women only, it is a place where a woman can go in the neighbourhood, and feel entirely safe from the threat of violence. Beyond a safe place, the centre offers basic services such as a lunch served daily, access to donated clothing and blankets, shower and laundry facilities, a phone designated especially for members, and the use of a secure mailing address for women who are living on the streets or are in-between places. The centre also offers specialized services, including legal advocacy, HIV outreach, advocacy for women with mental health issues, programs dedicated to assisting women with violence prevention, and a support system for women who are victims of violence.

New Opportunities for Women (NOW) Canada Society PO Box 476 Stn PBC, Kelowna BC V1Y 7P1 Phone: 250-763-3876 E-mail: info@nowcanada.ca Website: www.nowcanada.ca

New Opportunities for Women (NOW) Canada Society is a ministry established for sexually exploited female youth, both with and without children. NOW provides long-term support for women dealing with alcohol or drug recovery. With a success rate of 73 percent, the ministry has a number of rehabilitation day programs oriented to meet a variety of needs for life skills, strengthening self-esteem, relapse therapy, and a back-to-work/school program. Built on passion and hope, the ministry continues to grow and effectively meet the needs of female street youth.


Costs are based on operations in TWO cities initially, over the first year, expanding to ten cities in the second year of operation. This schedule may change.

City Teams are envisaged as being comprised of six catering staff in the central kitchen, four truck drivers, each accompanied by two assistants in each truck (in the morning possibly only one), a warehouse manager and two assistants for each central kitchen, one of which will check deliveries and other receipts, a bookkeeper, and an Operations Manager, who will oversee all operations.


Capital Costs per city: $x
Annual Operating Cost per City: $x
Five Year Costs per City: $x

First Year Costs: 1 city $x
First Year Costs: 2 cities $x
First Year Costs: 5 cities $x
First Year Costs: 10 cities $x

Cost to support 5 cities over 5 years: $x
Cost to support 10 cities over 5 years: $x
Cost to support 20 cities over 5 years: $x


The project will be managed by the First Church of St Germain incorporated at the request of St Germain as a federal non-profit corporation in Canada.

Funds received will be placed in a special account for this project in the Royal Bank of Canada.

A central headquarters will be established in Vancouver, British Columbia, which will administer the various branches across the country and elsewhere.


The Central Kitchen will serve one city with all its needs, although in cities where the needs are very widespread there may be a requirement for an outlying ancillary kitchen, although in most cases the homeless problem is concentrated in the downtown area and one kitchen should be adequate.

The Central Kitchen will be fully equipped to provide meals, which may be finished or reheated later in the mobile kitchen, and to stock all necessary ingredients on site.

It is anticipated that two meals will be served daily: breakfast and dinner. A healthy, nutritious product will be emphasized, which will also influence the material used in the cookware (no aluminum), and the ingredients bought from suppliers.

A communications system will link the kitchen to all truck drivers and to the central, administrative headquarters. The property should also allow for ample parking for the vans and for vehicle washing, inside and out, on a daily basis.

Provision should be made for the disposal of plastic plates and utensils, which may be brought back from the vans after delivery. If "Kleen-Wipes" are also provided for purposes of hygiene, there should be facilities to collect and return the used material for disposal through the central kitchen operation.


The vans required for delivery of meals will depend on how meals are delivered. In busy cities, parking will be a major consideration and the local authority should be approached for exemption from parking regulations during operations, subject to drivers exercising responsibility in where they stop. Stopping places will soon become recognized among the street people.

There will be a need for two principal types of vehicle. A smaller 'sandwich' type operation, probably for early morning meals, operated by a driver and assistant, and a larger van with some kitchen features to provide hot evening meals, previously prepared in the central kitchen, with kitchen staff and driver, who might also act as security guard. There may be a need to divert away those who are not homeless - even those who would sincerely wish to purchase what is offered.

Technically, the smaller truck will be a 'Catering Truck', which is designed to work from the outside with lift-up doors for access; a 'Mobile Kitchen' - often referred to as a 'rolling kitchen' - is a custom-designed unit that is usually built on a step-van chassis, and in which the staff can prepare a diversified menu and pass meals or beverages through the serving window to customers.

The Catering Truck however is generally built for the sale of various items or snacks, and is more often referred to as a Vending Truck, as the operator serves from outside the vehicle. This is not what we need, so a variation will be required. The smaller truck is useful for difficult parking areas, or times when there may be specific parking restrictions in force, so as not to impede rush-hour traffic - early morning in our case.

The 'smaller' van may have to be more of a 1-ton parcel van conversion rather than a pick-up conversion to allow limited meals to be prepared or finished onsite. Trailer units or even fifth-wheel units are not suitable for this purpose as they cannot be left unattended. The period of use at any one time is not expected to exceed a couple of hours.

Vans will remain in communication at all times with the central kitchen and local central administration.

Rather than 'running a route' like commercial catering trucks, the vans will have minimal stops, delivering to specific points, which will quickly become known to the homeless population.

Sample Catering truck - source

Interior Layout source

see also The Bistro Bus videos at 'Kitchens to go'.

Mobile Kitchen - source

Interior View of Kitchen Vango

Custom Trucks:-
Cater Truck Inc

Alternatively FOUR identical vans can be purchased, with slightly different interior outfitting for morning and evening delliveries.

One such van considered is the Dodge Sprinter, at an approximate cost of $60,000 each, plus outfitting.


In each city there will be at least ONE central kitchen which will supply the various delivery vans providing free meals to the homeless.

A fleet of kitchen-equipped vans will be operated in each city in order to provide hot meals and beverages as well as fresh fruit and juices to the needy. There should be a place nearby where hands can be washed (before eating) so as to ensure meals are not contaminated by germs. One might supply something like "Kleen-Wipes" in a larger size to disinfect hands. There would need to be a disposal bin after use and this could be returned to the centre for incineration or disposal by other means.

One of the regular street people might be employed as a 'security guard' to ensure that passers-by do not partake of the handout unless they really do fall into the homeless or needy category, and otherwise to regulate the crowds.

© Dr Milson Macleod 2006 - 2008

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