Founded in 2012 by Mark Brand, ‘A Better Life Foundation’ (ABLF) strives to support people in need. The overarching goal of the Foundation is to raise critical funds towards providing food security to women, children, and those in assisted living as well as provide job training and employment opportunities for the community at large. By looking for and working towards sustainable solutions, ABLF aims to contribute towards meaningful change.
In its first two years, the objectives of the Foundation are two-fold. Firstly, to relieve poverty by providing nutritious meals to those in need and secondly, to relieve poverty by providing job skills, training opportunities and job placement assistance for those with barriers to traditional employment. The foundation has had great success to date with both of these initiatives, working with multiple partners – from developmental disability to addiction service agencies.
ABLF plans to run a food program providing one nutritious meal daily to residents of Single Residency Occupancy hotels and assisted living buildings in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES). The vision for 2013 is to increase service for over 1500 individuals living in various housing societies and organizations. In addition, ABLF will work towards sponsoring multiple community kitchens and cooking classes. Community kitchens help to create a social outlet and skill-building environment while teaching residents how to access food sources and cook for themselves. Part of the Foundation’s commitment is to ensure that the meals and community kitchens provided are nutritious and, whenever possible, include locally sourced ingredients. With almost two years experience in this program with partner Atira Women’s Resource Center – ABLF has real metrics that the program is not only effective, but successful in changing lives every day.
Through a food provision program, ABLF will provide job training and opportunities to individuals facing employment barriers such as mental illness and/or addiction. By partnering with restaurants and urban farms in the DTES, the Foundation will create work experience and education programs focused on food production and preparation as well as basic life and planning skills.
Each participant in our employment program will have access to the following services:
- Opportunities for education and specialized training to build up work experience and personal resumes. For example: FoodSafe certification, Serving-It-Right certification, HACCP certification, butchery classes, and food processing workshops
- Supportive employment with referrals to services that will meet the needs of each individual. Referrals include: counseling services, support groups, medical services, housing advocacy, and various community associations and organizations
- Job placement assistance both internally and with community partners and businesses
- Mentorship and future planning through case management and community liaisons of ABLF
Upon completion of ABLF educational programs and services, participants will be offered continued support throughout their careers – not only within the Mark Brand Group, but also with hundreds of partners locally in the food service industry and beyond. They will be able to liaise with staff and volunteers of ABLF in order to become a part of upcoming workshops and mentorship programs. They will be connected to qualified farmers, chefs, bakers, and other food production and preparation specialists to maximize their skills within the community.
In summary, by partnering with a diverse group of organizations, ABLF aims to find unconventional solutions while creating a larger discussion around food provision and sustainability in Vancouver. By working as a coordinated group, our strategy is to develop a community database that outlines access to affordable food and to secure donations to help stop wastage and maximize resources. Believing that creating food security is multifaceted, ABLF is committed to integrating food provision with job training and supportive employment to create sustainable communities.