The Dugout’s mission is simple, to provide a supportive safe space to the disadvantaged residents of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

We like to call what we offer a “Community Living Room”, or a place where people can come have a snack and a coffee off of the street or away from the isolation that many experience living on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.               Donations

City of Vancouver        Central City Foundation

A recent video from Central City Foundation featuring The Dugout!


During the COVID-19 pandemic The Dugout has continued to operate.  We decided to restrict entrance to The Dugout to Staff and Volunteers and to serve soup at the door.  Our ‘Out To Lunch Bunch’ AA meeting could no longer meet at The Dugout.  They have been meeting continuously every day of the year for decades.  We look forward to the day we are all comfortable having them return.  We have adopted protocols to keep Staff, Volunteers and Clients safe.  We all look forward when the doors will be fully open again.

The ‘Out To Lunch Bunch’ has been meeting again regularly since December, although only once a week, on Fridays.

We have not missed one day of opening and service since the start of the COVID pandemic!  Thanks to our wonderful staff and volunteers.

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About Us

The Dugout Drop-In Society is a Non-Profit Society serving residents of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Founded in 1967, we offer one of the longest running meal and safe space outreach programs in British Columbia. We are one of the few programs in Vancouver to offer free daily meals and an inclusive safe space, and have also hosted an Alcoholics Anonymous group, “The Out to Lunch Bunch”, since 1968.

Every day we serve hundreds of people, and we do it seven days a week. We would not be able operate were it not for the generosity of the Central City Foundation, the City of Vancouver, private donors, local businesses who generously donate their excess food,  and of course, our amazing volunteers who generously donate their time.

Online Donations               Donations | Powell River Public Library

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Our Programs


Hot Breakfast

We provide a free breakfast to over 200 people every single day.  The breakfast consists hot soup, buns and coffee. 

We offer our Hot Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. Monday to Saturday, and at 8:30 a.m. on Sundays and holidays.

Safe-Space Snacks

Anyone can come and hang out at the Dugout, free of charge. 

For those that need something warm, we offer hot coffee for $0.50. We also offer snacks, which vary depending on what our generous donors provide us with. Additionally, and subject to availability, for those who struggle to put food on the table we offer free bread donated to us by local bakeries and eggs, for which we charge $2.75 per dozen, or $0.50 for 2.

Safe Space

The Dugout provides a “living-room” for people to come and spend some time off the streets or away from their hostel or single room accommodation. We have a TV and computers, and also have about 15 tables with chairs for people to play cards, be social, or simply to have some time alone.

Throughout the day we offer snacks, coffee and a warm welcoming environment for anyone who stops by.


Aside from our meal and snack service, we host a number of programs, including the daily Alcoholics Anonymous meetings of the “Out to Lunch Bunch”.               Donations | Powell River Public Library

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Our Story

The story of the Dugout, as told by one of our founders and current volunteer, Bob Burrows: 

“In 1967, when I was a young minister at First United Church in Vancouver’s Downtown­Eastside (and two years before the re-discovery of Gastown), I secured the moral support of St. James Anglican, Holy Rosary Roman Catholic, First United and Central City Mission to explore the possibility of starting a drop-­in centre that would provide a “living room” for the hundreds of people living on the street or in tiny single-occupancy rooms downtown. We wanted to provide a beer-­parlour atmosphere, but have coffee instead of beer.

On my first afternoon looking for a space, a realtor took me to 59 Powell Street where 1500 square feet was being used to store empty cartons.  The cost was $75 per month, and I said “yes” right away.  Over the next six weeks several downtown men joined me in fixing up the space, and the City of Vancouver expedited the permit process.

We opened on December 9, 1967 and have been open virtually everyday since.

The essential work at the Dugout is done by three staff and many volunteers. We also have an Executive Director.

In the late 1970’s the building was for sale, and to prevent the Dugout losing its space, the City of Vancouver purchased the building (and still owns it to this day). There are 30 housekeeping rooms on the floors above street level, and many of the occupants visit our space.

The soup-line was added to the Dugout program about 30 years ago, in the 1980s. Currently between 150 and 200 enjoy soup, coffee and buns at 7:30am daily.  Since April 1, 1968 there has been a daily AA meeting every day of the week (12:30–1:30).

Throughout the day coffee is available and snacks and bread (donated by several bakeries and stores) are given to those who stream in hoping there will be something to eat.  People come by each day hoping for a muffin, a piece of cake or a loaf of bread.  We have a roster of regular volunteers who work for several hours each week.

The four churches each chipped in $50 a month when the Dugout started. The City gave us a small operating grant each year, but it has been individuals and that groups have been the main supporters through the years.  The Dugout currently requires just over $100,000 to operate each year, and we have to raise $30,000 to $40,000 of that through donations from the public.   Not included in that budget is the value of the donated bread and pastries we receive and distribute.  Currently, the value of the baked goods we receive annually has a retail value of $400,000 to $500,000.  The bakeries and supermarkets are thrilled that we use their “end of day” bread which otherwise they would throw away.

In addition to purchasing large quantities of vegetables for the soup, we have must spend a significant amount on 8oz and 10oz cups for the coffee and soup, as well as plastic spoons, sugar cubs, stir sticks, beef, chicken and vegetable soup base, as well as any other seasoning we use to make the soup.  The other major expenses of the Dugout are our utility costs, including hydro, cable and internet, one salary, and a small honorarium given monthly to the regular volunteers who are low-income men and women from the downtown community.

After over 50 years I still believe in the value of the Dugout, and the nourishment and hope it brings to so many.  It will be most appreciated if you are able to support this project.”

Now retired as a minister, Bob continues to spend a significant portion of his time volunteering with the Dugout.

Our mission has not wavered since our inception, as we still seek to provide a safe space amongst the many struggles that face the residents of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.               Donations | Powell River Public Library

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The Dugout would not be able to operate without our wonderful volunteers.  As a result, we strive to do everything possible to ensure that our volunteers are comfortable and happy.

We are always accepting volunteer applications for the below positions, though we may keep your application on file if we do not have the need for more volunteers during the times you are available.  

Volunteer Drivers.

Description: Volunteers who have access to their own set of wheels who can pick up bread and other donated food items from local businesses and deliver them to the Dugout.  

How Often: Weekly or every now and then.  What we have delivered often determines how many loaves of bread we are able to hand out or what type of soup we serve the next morning.  As a result, we greatly appreciate being able to rely on regular pickups and deliveries and are always looking for volunteers who can make regular deliveries to the Dugout.   Even if you are unable to commit to doing deliveries on a regular basis, we still would appreciate your help.  We often do not have enough drivers, so even the odd delivery makes a difference. 

Soup Line Volunteers.

Description: Volunteers who can help us prepare or serve soup, coffee, and buns to those who rely on us for breakfast, while helping create a positive and respectful environment for patrons.

How Often: Shifts are 6:30am to 8:30 am Monday through Saturday, and 7:30am to 9:30am on Sunday.  Shifts can be weekly, biweekly, monthly or even bimonthly.

Morning and Afternoon Volunteers.

Description: Volunteers who help us provide a welcoming and respectful environment for patrons through conversation and a positive and friendly attitude. Volunteers will serve snacks, sell coffee and eggs, sort and put out bread, and help keep the Dugout clean throughout the day.

How Often: Shifts are 9am to 12:30pm or 1:30pm to 4:30pm Monday through Saturday, and 10am to 12:30pm or 1:30pm to 3:30pm on Sunday.  Shifts can be weekly, biweekly, monthly or even bimonthly.

Group Volunteers.

Since the Dugout only needs a few volunteers per shift and we usually have those shifts covered already, it is hard for us to accommodate groups of over 5 people at a time and what is most valuable for us is if your group can provide our patrons with food or other resources (e.g., sandwiches, socks, etc.) that you’ve made, purchased or fundraised.

How to Volunteer

To volunteer, give us a call at 604-685-5239, or send us an email at and attach your completed The Dugout Volunteer Information Form.  If we do not have openings that match your availability we will keep your information on file and contact you in the future when an opportunity comes up to see if you are still interested and available.

If your group of friends, students, or coworkers are interested in volunteering for the Dugout, please send us an email at with what you have in mind. Please note that we cannot always accommodate groups and if your group is more than 5 people we may ask that you split into smaller groups because of our small space. It’s great to see groups of friends, students, or coworkers show their support for the Dugout and help provide our patrons with additional resources!               Donations | Powell River Public Library

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The Dugout operates as a community supported space to provide for those who are less-fortunate.  Without the support of our sponsors, be it private donors or generous local businesses, we would not be able to offer the services to our patrons that we are able to now.

Every donation, no matter how small, goes a long way to serving those on the Downtown Eastside. 

There are two ways to donate, by cheque or by using the donate button below. We are happy to issue tax receipts on all donations over $20.


To send us a cheque, simply make the cheque out to “The Dugout Drop-In Centre Society” and mail or deliver it to us at 59 Powell Street, Vancouver B.C.  V6A 1E9.

Online Donations

To make an online donation, please click the icon below.  Additionally, please specify whether you would like a tax receipt, and to whom we should make the receipt.               Donations | Powell River Public Library

Thank you!

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