When it launched in 2011, The Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival was the first city-wide festival of its kind in the world. This January it returns for its 9th year, bigger and better than ever, with Vancouver’s best chocolatiers, pastry shops, bakeries, cafes, gelato and ice cream makers coming together to make the humble hot chocolate hotter than it has ever been before. In the damp and gloomy days of our Westcoast winter, you’ll find our motto to be true: “Hot Chocolate Makes You Happy!”
In 2019, partial funds from the proceeds of the Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival will be shared with the following three charitable organizations – all of which seek to improve the lives of women and families in Vancouver.
The Downtown Eastside Women’s Job Training Program of the PHS COMMUNITY SERVICES SOCIETY
As run by East Vancouver Roasters
East Van Roasters was designed to provide training and employment to the women residents of the Rainier Hotel. Until it lost its funding in January of 2013, the Rainer operated a small but radical new approach to treating addiction for marginalized women in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. It offered full spectrum programming, reflecting ‘best practices’ in addictions treatment for women with mental health diagnosis and substance dependency.
Before coming to the Rainier nearly all residents reported attempting treatment in other programs with little or no success. In the Rainier’s comprehensive treatment program, over 130 women made achievements in recovery and many say it saved their lives.
At East Van Roasters, they employ women from the Rainier. They help them get back into the work force, gain confidence, build their skill sets, and enjoy working in a supportive, dignified, and positive environment. Over time and through the success of the café, East Van Roasters hopes to return funding to the Rainier’s ground-breaking program and to be able to train and employ more of its residents.
Since 2015, Vancouver Farmers Markets’ Fresh to Families Fund has helped low income families access fresh food through the Farmers Market Nutrition Coupon Program. The program provides participants with fresh food coupons that can be used at any farmers market in BC to purchase produce, meat, eggs, nuts, and dairy direct from local producers.
The Fresh to Families Fund currently supports the livelihoods of over 80 small scale producers and 150 families. More info on the fund can be found at eatlocal.org/support-us/fresh-to-families/
Too many kids don’t know where food comes from or have access to healthy, whole food. Growing Chefs! is on a mission to change that! This charity pairs teams of chef and community volunteers with elementary school classrooms to grow vegetable gardens, conduct cooking lessons, and get kids excited about healthy food and food systems. Over 3.5 months, the children receive lessons on how to plant and care for a garden; nutrition and healthy eating; cooking; urban agriculture; plant growth; food security; and the impact of healthy food systems on our communities and the environment – skills and knowledge that they can take home and share with their families.
In the 2017/2018 school year, with the support of last year’s Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival vendors, Growing Chefs! supported 196 volunteers and 1,470 students in seven communities across the province!