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Harvest Project: The number of North Shore residents living below the poverty line is growing

Harvest Project enters four decades of transforming lives on the North Shore
The people being served at Harvest Project are quite literally those we see every day in every corner of the North Shore. Photo via iStock

There was a time in Jane’s life when it felt like the sun would never rise again.

A single mother grappling with job loss, struggling to feed her children and on the verge of homelessness, Jane needed a beacon of hope.

The universe responded in kind, through the holistic, caring approach central to the North Shore’s Harvest Project – this unique service provided immediate grocery support to ensure her family didn’t go hungry; its rent bank program offered a no-interest loan that allowed her to pay overdue rent and stay housed; and through one one-to-one coaching and counsel, Jane regained her confidence and stable employment.

“Today, [Jane] holds a steady job, her children are thriving in school and she is an active volunteer with Harvest Project, giving back to the community that helped her during her darkest times,” explains Kevin Lee, chief development officer with Harvest Project.

Jane’s identity has been withheld to protect her privacy, though her story is far from being an outlier in what is considered one of the wealthiest communities in Canada.

Statistics reveal that more than 10% of North Shore residents live below the poverty line, with seniors and single-parent households particularly at risk.

Harvest Project staff and volunteers are dedicated to helping North Shore residents navigate life's challenges as the community evolves. Photo via Harvest Project

In Vancouver, the second highest poverty rate in Canada is observed at 12.4%, while food insecurity impacted 15% of B.C. households in 2021 because of insufficient incomes – facts mirrored on the North Shore.

A 2020 extended homelessness count found hundreds of people on the North Shore experiencing homelessness, or being marginally housed, reflecting the growing need for comprehensive supports

With the ongoing crisis around housing availability and affordability, the number of North Shore residents facing housing insecurity is at an all-time high.

It’s precisely these scenarios that Harvest Project staff and volunteers are helping North Shore residents overcome as the community continues to change. It does so via a full suite of services that focus on extending a hand up, rather than a hand out: ongoing coaching and counsel; grocery support; clothing assistance; a rent bank; financial coaching and much more to bolster their clients’ physical, emotional and personal well-being.

The Harvest Project offers an Emergency Food Program and a Food Recovery Program, providing pre-packed food bags and donated food and hygiene products to residents in need. Photo via Harvest Project

“This comprehensive support system ensures that clients receive meaningful help over a longer period, addressing immediate needs while also empowering them to build a better future – regaining health and reconnecting with life in the larger community,” Lee says.

In 2023, Harvest Project provided more than 3,600 client-care sessions, along with rent bank support, grocery assistance, clothing and other resources. This included 1,100 one-to-one client care appointments, $355,000 worth of groceries and $107,947 in loans and grants to keep people housed.

Stories of desperate need are not confined to Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside — people being served at Harvest Project are quite literally neighbours and others you’ll see every day, in every pocket of the North Shore. Each is experiencing trauma that has a drastic effect on individual and community health.

“As Harvest Project continues its journey into a fourth decade, our commitment to the North Shore community remains steadfast,” Lee says. “The evolving needs of this community have shaped a dynamic, responsive and compassionate organization that not only provides immediate relief but also fosters long-term stability and empowerment.”

To learn more about how you can get involved, make a difference and positively impact the lives of your neighbours, visit