1. Who's the food hero in your life?
#Myfoodhero is my dear friend Diandra Oliver. Diandra is an awesome babe, economist, and DIY superstar living in unceded Coast Salish territories. Diandra is working on her PhD in Geography at Simon Fraser University, where she is injecting a culture of care into her teacher assistantships and researching how youth manufacture diaspora and resistance in Spain as a way to respond to the financial crisis.
Diandra and I have been friends since our first year at Douglas College in New Westminster, BC. We spotted each other across an anthropology classroom, admired each other’s fashion sense, and one day started chatting. She invited me to a potluck at her apartment. I was still living with my parents, and I remember thinking, Wow, someone my age has their own apartment...Diandra is the coolest. From there it was a trip to the Peace Arch Border Crossing for the 2002 Paul Robeson memorial concert. Over a picnic lunch, our friendship was sealed.
We've been separated by thousands of kilometres for about a decade, but we bond over food whenever we have the chance—whether a tofu scramble brunch at Cafe Deux Soleils on Commercial Drive (marble rye, please), salad and fries at the Lakeview in Toronto, or potstickers and kombucha in the home she shares with her partner and son.
Diandra Oliver (pictured here) is Amanda's food hero!
2. How do they show they care through food?
One of the main ways Diandra shows her love for her friends and family is by making them food. I learned long ago that Diandra offering to cook is one of the best possible gifts—she puts so much care and attention into what she's preparing, considering various food allergies and preferences, sourcing locally, and making it from scratch. Diandra always makes the meal as delicious as possible, and ensures there's enough for second helpings or another guest at the table.
Diandra made her commitment to local food her business when she and her best friend Laura Sapergia started Home Sweet Home, a community-funded grocery store, café, and model for economic and social development. The goal of HSH was to diversify the local food economy in Prince George, BC, where fresh, healthy food grown and produced in a sustainable manner isn’t always available. They operated the storefront for about two years, working with local partners including credit unions, neighbourhood centres, and schools. HSH also started Prince George's first online food ordering and delivery service. Diandra and Laura then took the model on the road with the HSH Field School, which brought workshops on food justice, reconciliation, self-sufficiency, and conflict resolution to rural communities in BC.
See what I mean? Totally awesome babe and #myfoodhero.
3. Why is it important for you to support an organization that uses food as a tool to increase physical and mental health + community belonging? What about this approach resonates with you?
While food banks help thousands of people gain access to much-needed nourishment, they were intended as a band-aid solution to a broken food system, with wage inequality, rampant capitalism, and animal cruelty at its core. Community Food Centres Canada presents an alternative and shows that change can begin with every healthy meal shared in a welcoming space. When food is grown with care, served with dignity, and eaten in community, we all benefit.
Thanks to Amanda for contributing to the #myfoodhero campaign, which supports Community Food Centres Canada to offer empowering food programs that build better health, skills, and belonging in the communities that need it most. Join Amanda by making a donation today!