The mission of Potluck Café Society is to transform lives by providing employment and hands-on training to members of the community who face barriers to traditional employment, and providing healthy, nutritious food for people living in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
Our commitment to working closely with our community, with both the people living in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) and other organizations in the DTES, is why we do what we do.
These programs don't define us, but define our values, our goals, our mission.
Thanks to funding from a local Vancouver foundations philanthropic donation, Potluck is able to provide 585 meals every week to hard-to-house residents in the DTES, including marginalized and at risk groups.
These meals are prepared fresh and packaged by our kitchen staff. Every weekday, community peers hand out 100 hot meals (and an extra 85 on Tuesday's)!
"Beat the Heat" Lemonade Stand
To help the residents of the DTES, we thought what better way to keep people cool than by providing chilled lemonade. We were also successful in providing community members with some low-barrier employment too.
A "pay-what-you-can' program, provided community members the chance to donate to our social programs should they so choose, all while drinking some yummy lemonade.
Greatly appreciated by the community, this program ran from July 2022, to September 2022, provided 3,541 cups of lemonade and over 350 hours of employment!
In our previous location, Potluck had a weekly fruit market in summer for the community, giving them low cost access to fresh seasonal fruits.
Since it was so well received, we thought we'd bring it back!
Over the course of 8 weeks, we provided over 300 bags of fresh fruit, at community pricing - think, $1 bags of blueberries.
Holiday Meal Program
Potluck has joined forces with the YWCA Vancouver Single Mothers Program to provide a Holiday Meal Program for the singles mothers they support. This meal program will see us providing family-style holiday meals over Thanksgiving and Christmas.
What divine timing too, because they have recently welcomed and begun supporting just shy of 30 Ukrainian refugee mothers along with their children.
Keep your eyes on our socials around the aforementioned holidays to see pics and blog posts!
Homelessness Action Week
For many years, Potluck donated hot and fresh meals to residents during Homelessness Action Week.
This year, we partnered with DTES Neighbourhood House, and provided 300 meals of Beef Stroganoff Pasta to residents of the neighbourhood and others who visit this organization.
The 32nd Annual Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women's Memorial March
For a number of years, Potluck has participated in Vancouver's Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women's Memorial March. This year, for the 32nd annual march, Potluck supported the march by providing 300 hot meals of Beef Stroganoff Pasta and Mashed Potatoes, and 100 pieces of homemade Bannock.
We hope you also had the chance to participate.
Hot Chocolate Stand
To keep on par with our mission of the lemonade stand, we hosted a hot chocolate stand at our location Tuesday - Friday, through some of the coldest winter days we saw this year.
This winter, we served 5,642 cups of hot chocolate to our Downtown Eastside neighbours and provided 210 hours of employment!
Progressive Intercultural Community Services (PICS) Society
Potluck recently joined forces with PICS, after getting in contact with Saba Sultan, a Job Developer & Work Experience Coach for the organization, to see if there is synergy between us.
In April of 2023, we hired two adults from the program to complete a practicum (placement) of 4 weeks with us. Post completion, we've hired Angie to work as part of Potluck staff. In August, we will host an info session in Surrey for their second round
Check out more about this program here!
In the summer of 2022, a wonderful partnership between Potluck and Promise began. We provided 5 Friday's of homemade lunches to their low-income summer camp program. In the fall, it continued and we began providing monthly dinners for their after-school programs teen counsellors skill building sessions one Friday of every month. We love that we can support such an important and inspiring organization, and are so grateful to get to feed children whole wholly enjoy our food! This support runs all school year, until June.
In 2022, we provided $5,251.95 worth of food to Promise Vancouver! That's amazing!
We aren't done there. Potluck has several food and employment programs being developed and implemented in the coming months. Keep an eye on our socials, or join our mailing list, to get up-to-date and first sneak peaks at new programs
Over the past two decades, we feel privileged to have made a contribution to the DTES Community that has had an impact on its members.
However, we fully recognize none of this would have been possible without the support and partnership of other organizations, not-for-profits, and our well wishers who have generously contributed in so many ways to Potluck's efforts.
This section is dedicated to acknowledge and thank all of you, who have helped us along our journey.