PhD Candidate Ryan Stillwagon receives grant from UBC’s Partnership Recognition and Exploration Fund

Congratulations to UBC Sociology PhD Candidate Ryan Stillwagon, whose partnership with Saige Community Food Bank & Community Kitchen received a small community grant from UBC’s Partnership Recognition and Exploration fund.

“I have worked with Saige Executive Director Tanya Kuhn and Saige for over a year and seven months. My dissertation work explores pathways and barriers to queer food security in Vancouver and within Canada,” Stillwagon says.

Saige Community Food Bank & Community Kitchen has provided the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and low-income folx access to a safe, no-barriers food bank and bi-monthly community kitchens for over 11 years. During the Covid-19 pandemic, volunteers stepped up to offer a no-contact delivery service across Vancouver of fresh produce bags and other household supplies once every two weeks. They have worked tirelessly, using their own cars and gas, to support over 120 families across Vancouver.

“From the limited data we have, we know queer individuals experience higher levels of food insecurity compared to the general population in Canada, and that there are unique barriers they face in family life, housing, and employment that increase their risk of becoming and staying food insecure,” Stillwagon says. “Saige was founded when community members in East Vancouver got together to honour a trans community member named Saige, who took their life while facing these barriers.”

UBC’s Partnership Recognition and Exploration Fund provides grants of $1,500 each to projects that advance equity, diversity, and inclusion; Indigenous engagement and reconciliation; health innovation and community wellbeing; sustainability and climate action; and teaching, learning, and research excellence. For Saige, the $1500 will contribute to an event for the volunteers who have made the operation work during the 2-plus years of the pandemic.

“Without the volunteers, Saige could not do the work it has done,” Stillwagon says. “They have relied on a tight, core group of unpaid labourers to feed families throughout the pandemic. The delivery system has enabled Saige to continue offering support to those folx during this period. It is our hope to bring folx together to thank them for their service and to show them how much they are appreciated and to inspire community among them.”