A group of teens is behind a local non-profit helping Vancouver residents in the Downtown Eastside.
Project Hastings is a student-run grassroots organization that donates meals and care packages to unhoused residents in hopes to alleviate hunger and poverty.
The non-profit started with a group of five Vancouver youth in September 2020.
What is Project Hastings?
"Seeing the depletion of social support during the pandemic, especially in marginalized communities such as the Downtown Eastside, we decided to launch the organization to not only assist our community but also to engage more high school students with volunteerism and advocacy," Project Hastings states.
Starting the group wasn't an easy task.
Through hiring campaigns and fundraising, Project Hastings began to take form. It wasn't until a year later that the organization incorporated as a B.C. non-profit society.
Nearly all of the group's volunteers are high school students. Occasionally, Project Hastings has hosted volunteers as young as five years old, with parental supervision, but currently accepts students as young as 13 years old or of the age equivalent of an eighth-grade student.
"We believe that it’s important to instill the sense of community and volunteerism in our future generation starting from a young age," the non-profit says.
Project Hastings volunteers deliver meals and care packages on a biweekly basis.
Meals are usually sandwiches but have recently included hot dogs and soup. Sometimes the group works with local businesses to distribute other meals such as rice bowls, bento boxes, and burgers. Care packages include various personal items such as socks, dental hygiene kits, blankets, and other essentials.
Since 2020, the non-profit has distributed over 20,000 meals to the Downtown Eastside community.
The organization plans to provide learning care-packages in the near future, which will include learning essentials such as backpacks, stationary, and books for youth.
This year, we’d love to continue the work that we’ve been doing ever since Project Hastings was founded," says the non-profit, nodding to the group's mission to help those experiencing homelessness and food insecurity in the Downtown Eastside.
"Going forward [we want] to educate students throughout the Lower Mainland on the very real crises that are happening in our shared community."