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The "Samskara - Food for Thoughts" project in Surrey, BC, has been instrumental in enhancing the lives of individuals and the community through its innovative approach of integrating nutrition, mental health, and cultural exchange.

Here's a summary of its key achievements:

  • Educating and Empowering ParticipantsThe initiative has provided invaluable knowledge and skills related to nutrition, mental health, and cultural traditions. Participants like Aman and Priya have experienced personal growth and increased confidence, demonstrating the empowering nature of the project.


  • Building Community and Fostering Inclusivity: The in-person event and workshops created a supportive environment where people from diverse backgrounds could connect, share experiences, and learn from each other.
    This sense of community and inclusivity has been crucial in promoting social cohesion.


  • Promoting Holistic Well-being: The project's holistic approach, addressing both physical and mental health, has led to noticeable improvements in participants' overall well-being. Testimonials from participants and experts like Dr. Farah highlight the effectiveness of integrating nutrition and mental health education.


  • Inspiring Further Action: The success of "Samskara - Food for Thoughts" serves as a model for similar initiatives, emphasizing the need for culturally sensitive approaches to mental health and nutrition. The project's impact extends beyond the immediate participants, inspiring others to prioritize their well-being and advocate for holistic health programs.

"Samskara - Food for Thoughts" has proven the effectiveness of community-based health and wellness programs, inspiring ongoing efforts to integrate mental health and nutrition education with a focus on cultural relevance and inclusivity. Its legacy of empowerment, community building, and holistic well-being continues to inspire positive change.


Our Mission

Samskara - Food for Thought Project is dedicated to nurturing holistic well-being by promoting the harmonious integration of cultural traditions, mindful nutrition, and mental health awareness.

Through innovative educational initiatives and community engagement, we strive to empower individuals to cultivate a deeper understanding of the profound connection between nourishing the body and nurturing the mind.

Our Vision

Our vision is a world where every individual has access to culturally relevant nutrition education and mental health resources that honour the interconnectedness of body, mind, and spirit.

Samskara - Food for Thought Project envisions vibrant communities where people are empowered to make informed choices about their health and well-being, leading to a sustainable and equitable future for generations to come.

Resilient Roots

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Successfully produced a documentary that explores the dietary challenges and mental health struggles faced by immigrant youth in Surrey, BC


"Resilient Roots" seeks to foster understanding, empathy, and awareness about the crucial role of nutrition in mental health.. 


Conducted interviews with international students, experts in nutrition and mental health, and community members to provide a comprehensive view of the issues. Engaged professional cinematographers and editors to ensure high-quality production values, enhancing the documentary's appeal and effectiveness. Developed a compelling narrative that combines personal stories with expert insights, making the documentary informative and emotionally resonant.

The relationship between nutrition and mental health is a complex and multifaceted one.

Brain Health and Nutrition:

The brain requires a constant supply of nutrients to function optimally. Nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins B6, B12, and folate, as well as minerals like zinc and magnesium, play crucial roles in brain health. Dietary Patterns and Mental Health: Research suggests that certain dietary patterns may be more beneficial for mental health than others. For instance, the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and healthy fats, has been associated with a reduced risk of depression and anxiety. 

Nutrition and Mental Health for International Students:

Migration significantly impacts dietary habits and nutrition, particularly for international students in Canada. Many immigrants from low and middle-income backgrounds face health challenges such as obesity and diabetes, often due to changes in social and environmental structures.

Financial Constraints:

The higher cost of living and tuition fees, coupled with difficulties in finding part-time jobs, further exacerbate these challenges.

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Nutritional Challenges:

Accessibility to Native Foods: International students often struggle to find their traditional foods, leading to food insecurity.
Adaptation to the Canadian Diet: The limited availability of traditional foods and the high cost of Canadian food can make it difficult for students to maintain a healthy diet.

Impact on Mental Health and Academic Performance:

A balanced diet, rich in vitamins and minerals, can improve mental health and enhance academic performance. Nutritional psychiatry suggests that the brain requires a constant supply of nutrients to function properly. Diets high in refined sugars and low in quality nutrients can negatively affect the brain, leading to increased inflammation and stress.

Recommendations for a Balanced Diet:

Take time to eat and involve others in meal preparation.
Include vegetables and protein-based foods in your diet.
Avoid foods high in sodium and sugar, as well as sugary drinks.
Be aware of food marketing influences and make informed choices based on the nutritional content of foods.

Impact of COVID-19 on Mental Health and Well-being Among Immigrants and Students


Figure. The level of stress before and after the social distancing in immigrants in Canada

Source: (Statistique Canada, 2020)

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly disrupted the mental health and well-being of individuals, with recent immigrants, established immigrants, and native Canadians all experiencing varying levels of anxiety.


According to a population health survey using the GAD-7 scale:

Recent immigrants reported the highest anxiety levels at 91%, with 30% diagnosed with moderate to severe generalized anxiety disorder.
Established immigrants experienced anxiety at 82%, with a lower diagnosis rate of generalized anxiety disorder compared to recent immigrants.
Canadian-born participants felt anxiety at 86%, with 26% diagnosed with moderate to severe generalized anxiety disorder.

The pandemic has also highlighted the challenges faced by international students, who exhibit higher rates of smoking, gambling, and drug use compared to domestic students. Migration has been identified as a stressor, contributing to mental health complications such as anxiety, sadness, and fatigue. The loss of cultural and religious norms post-migration further exacerbates psychological distress.

Mental Health Challenges and Support for Students in Canada


Figure: Suicide in Canada: Key statistics

(Source: Public Health Agency of Canada, 2019)

Students in Canada face significant mental health challenges, with higher risks of anxiety, depression, and trauma compared to non-students. The legal framework in Canada, under domestic law conventions, aims to protect individuals in critical situations, including threats of death and torture.

Empirical studies indicate a wide range of mental health issues among Canadian students:

Depression rates range from 3% to 55%.
Anxiety rates range from 24% to 54%.
PTSD rates range from 4% to 61%.
In 2005, 9% of the student population suffered from PTSD, and 5% from major depression.

Factors influencing student mental health include the fear of rejection, socioeconomic support in their home country, and rights and well-being.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) reports that in April 2022, the federal government invested $3,775,000 in mental health support, including $2 million for CAMH and $1,775,000 for distress centers.

Settlement services and mental health support are provided by 550 organizations to help students adjust to life in Canada. The House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration emphasizes the importance of community support for students. Challenges such as linguistic barriers, resource availability, and the high influx of students make it difficult to provide adequate psychotherapy for those with PTSD.

Students' mental health is often in poorer condition compared to newcomers, with factors such as racism, discrimination, lack of social connections, and low employment rates contributing to anxiety and depression.

Overall, addressing the mental health needs of students in Canada requires a multifaceted approach that includes legal protection, socioeconomic support, and accessible mental health services.


Our In-Person Event

The "Samskara - Food for Thoughts" initiative recently hosted a successful in-person event, bringing together 17 participants, including KPU students and refugees from Afghanistan. The event featured workshops on cooking, yoga, gardening, and dance, all aimed at promoting awareness of mental health and nutrition. A highlight of the event was the short drama, "A New Beginning: Nourishing Mind and Body," which depicted the journey of an international student.

We are grateful to have held this event at the Safe Space Center, which provided an ideal setting for our activities. We extend our sincere thanks to the dedicated instructors and facilitators who led these engaging sessions, enhancing the experience for all attendees.

Our deepest gratitude goes to Latincouver and Canada Service Corp for their financial support, which made this dream a reality. A special thanks to DIVERSEcity Community Resource Society and Safe Space Center for providing the perfect venue for our workshops. We also appreciate the unwavering support of Lenya Wilks, Director of Partnership, Stakeholder & Engagement Department, and Sara Keshmiri, RISE Youth Case Specialist and Violence Prevention Services at DIVERSEcity, for their work with refugee clients. Additionally, we thank Tarana Kaur, Founder of "Happiness Yoga by Tarana Kaur," for leading the yoga session, Shravan Kumar for the dance workshop, and Nupur Vijh for her role in our play.

A special shoutout to all our team members and volunteers, whose dedication and hard work have been crucial to the success of this project. Without you, none of this would have been possible.

Together, we are building a community that empowers, educates, and inspires. Stay tuned for more exciting updates!

The Samskara - Food For Thoughts Team

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Kuntal Patel

Founder, Filmmaker, and Project Coordinator

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Avani Kaushal

Latincouver project lead, Finance and Legal document Coordinator

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Arjun Taneja

Marketing and Research Coordinator

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Olga Rudenko

Social Media Manager

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Akhil Sajan

Social Media Manager


Tanmayi Patel

Web Developer

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