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Owners of South Vancouver’s Lupii cafe promote sustainability

Local zero-waste business serves up vegan food, fosters community

Owner Daniel Papania outside Lupii Cafe during their weekly produce giveaway. Photo by Nick Laba
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Reported by Kelsea Franzke

While everyone says they support sustainability, it’s not necessarily followed up with financial support, according to a co-owner of Lupii Cafe.

Lupii Cafe is a community space in South Vancouver that focuses on sustainability, vegan food and zero-waste catering. Owners Daniel and Lisa Papania host community events to educate people on what living and eating sustainably means through free community dinners, support programs and free produce programs.

“It’s important that we focus on being very environmentally responsible. That way we can confidently say that we are trying to encourage and create a space where people can not only build strong communities, but to build a strong environment for the community to live in,” Daniel said.

It’s not easy being green

Community members praise Lupii for being an environmentally positive and welcoming community space, but the owners Daniel and Lisa say they lack support from the community when it comes to maintaining the business financially.

“It costs us so much money to run this program. We buy all the produce, we pay the staff in store, we pay the rent and electricity – we have so many expenses and it costs a fortune for us to run it. We don’t receive funding from anyone, so basically it’s all our own money,” said Daniel Papania.

Richard Rigby, a regular at Lupii, says that people should take sustainable businesses and community spaces seriously.

“It would be such a loss to me personally, and to the community, if Lupii ceased to exist. I wish people would be more proactive and contribute financially. They’re such philanthropists and have helped add to my community in the larger sense of the word, not just in the neighbourhood,” said Rigby.

Janice Sorenson, a nutrition and food service management instructor at Langara, said that it’s important to support businesses like Lupii in the community because food is more than nutrition — it’s political and ethical.

“I think they help resonate the importance of food sustainability, food security and accessibility to nutritious and affordable food,” said Sorenson. “Having certain businesses that are in line with these ideological beliefs and ethical practices can help move political movements to have policy around these issues, and help unify community.”

Read reporter Nick Laba’s opinion on the issues raised in this article here.

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