Author Archives: Amanda Havey

The Ottawa Citizen: Egan: On a Mission — a borrowed food truck rolls into 7,000 meals a week

“When the pandemic struck, there was no food truck at the Mission shelter, which used to serve mostly in the Waller Street dining room. Then came one, on loan.”

Our daily bread was once a mere menu thought — now it’s a costed worry, maybe an outright prayer.

So it occurs in Tuesday’s brilliant sunshine as the Ottawa Mission’s No. 2 food truck pulls into a church parking lot on Prince Albert Street in east-end Overbrook. The line is there already — it may be the best meal they get all day, “all week” one woman ventured.

Ottawa Mission adds Second Food Truck to its Mobile Mission Meals Program

Shocking Increases in Hunger Puts Shelter on Track to Serve Almost One Million Meals This Year

Ottawa, ON – As Ottawa has entered its third year of dealing with the ongoing pandemic, The Ottawa Mission announced the addition of a second food truck and 13 new stops to its Mobile Mission Meals program, which started in September 2020, to meet the shocking increase in hunger across the city. This will provide an additional 7,000 meals per week.

“This program continues to experience unprecedented growth in response to the worsening level of hunger in Ottawa due to the continuing pandemic, the lack of affordable housing, and other factors,” stated Ottawa Mission CEO Peter Tilley.

Beginning with one truck which provided 100 meals at each of its five stops back in September 2020, the shelter has now added an additional truck and a further 26 stops across Ottawa serving 14 times the original number of meals. The second truck and the additional 12 stops were added the week prior to Easter and served a full special holiday meal with all the trimmings.

“In 2019, the last Easter meal before the pandemic, The Ottawa Mission served 2,659 Easter meals. Last week, through our shelter and our food truck program, we served 10,084 meals. This is a new record for one of our special meals and four times the number of meals we served for Easter 2019,” noted The Mission’s Director of Food Services Chef Ric Allen-Watson.

“Every single day our truck goes out and people line up to receive the meals they need to survive. People with walkers, in wheelchairs, and with their kids. People who never worried about feeding themselves and their families until Covid-19 come to our truck to survive. Clients have told us that they go hungry, sometimes for days, until our truck comes. Think of that: not eating for an entire day – or two, or three, or more. Other clients have told us that our food truck helps them with family dinners since the cost of groceries has risen so much. Think of that: worrying about feeding yourself – and your children,” Allen-Watson added.

Prior to the onset of the pandemic, The Mission had served just over 520,000 meals annually. Now, into our third year of the pandemic, The Mission will serve almost 1 million meals to people who would otherwise go hungry – the equivalent of almost one meal for every person who lives in Ottawa.

The press conference was held in Regina Towers, a building owned by Ottawa Community Housing (OCH), which provides social and affordable housing in Ottawa. OCH Board Chair Councillor Mathieu Fleury noted the importance of The Mission’s food truck program to vulnerable community members across Ottawa. “The pandemic has highlighted the real struggles with access to food among residents. The Ottawa Mission, with its long history in Ottawa, responded positively to emerging needs by investing in its approach, which provides warm meals with Chef Ric’s social enterprise kitchen and food truck. The food truck has demonstrated enormous success by offering 4,000 meals per week. We are happy to see the arrival of the second truck, which will serve 12 new locations – and will serve an additional 3,000 meals per week.”

Ottawa Community Housing CEO Stéphane Giguère confirmed the importance of the shelter’s food truck program to OCH residents in particular, whose residences host several food truck stops per week. “Since September 2020, the Mission Food Truck has provided an invaluable service to tenants living in OCHC communities. We know food insecurity is a real issue – and we are grateful for partners such as the Ottawa Mission who help us meet the diverse needs of 32,000 residents.”

Councillor Theresa Kavanagh, whose ward includes Regina Towers, noted the factors that leave many of her constituents having to choose between paying their rent and feeding themselves and their families. “Ottawa has the highest shortfall for residents receiving Ontario Disability Support Payments and Ontario Works and the poverty line. And for those making minimum wage in Ottawa, 59% have less than $100 left after paying housing and utilities costs each month. Who could live on less than $100 after paying these costs? I couldn’t. And no one else should have to either. I’m grateful to The Mission for establishing this new food truck stop and others in my ward so people here don’t go hungry.”

Terry Nichols, President of Urbandale, a main food truck program sponsor, noted the company’s expanded support for the program. “We believe in building strong communities and value our partnerships. We’re particularly pleased to support The Ottawa Mission, our community’s oldest and largest homeless shelter. As The Mission says, it is more than a shelter. Not only does it provide both emergency support such as food, clothing and shelter, but it also offers programs for people to rebuild their lives. That’s why we decided to support this food truck initiative in 2020 and why we’re especially proud to continue to support it in its expanded format. This initiative has gone and will continue to go a long way go to address hunger in our community and ensure that people who need healthy meals get them.”

Donna Gibson, Commercial Account Manager at RBC, affirmed her organization’s support as well. “The RBC Foundation is proud to support The Ottawa Mission’s food truck program.  As a corporate leader, people look to us to step up on issues that demand leadership. By supporting this program, we’re reducing hunger in our community. COVID-19 has brought serious systemic issues to light, including food insecurity. That’s why it’s important to support community partners like The Ottawa Mission, who are taking actions to address these issues.”

Peter Tilley concluded the event by noting the importance of partnerships across sectors while also addressing the roots causes of hunger. “No one should have to go hungry. The Mission is grateful to partner with Ottawa Community Housing, Councillor Kavanagh, and our supporters Urbandale and RBC, to meet the needs of our community for warm and nutritious meals. We also need to address the fact that while we have valued partners such as OCH, over 40% of tenants in Ottawa live in unaffordable housing, and almost 10% live in housing in need of major repairs or unsuitable to their needs. We also need to address the failure of income supports to keep pace with the cost of living, which is rising faster than it has for the past 30 years. We need to expand affordable and appropriate housing options in our community and improve income supports for our most vulnerable community members, as well as look at new programs such as basic income options.”

About The Ottawa Mission
Since 1906, The Ottawa Mission has been serving those who are homeless, hungry and lost by providing food, clothing, shelter and skills. In 2020-2021, The Ottawa Mission provided emergency shelter to an average of 185 men every night and served an average of 1,994 meals every day.  The Ottawa Mission also provides to men and women health services, mental health and addiction treatment programs, hospice care, dental services, housing services, educational support, job training, spiritual care, and clothing to thousands in need in our community. In September 2020, The Ottawa Mission marked the one millionth hour that the shelter has been in existence since its founding in 1906. In 2019, the Mission became a housing-focused shelter reflective of its commitment to a home for everyone as a human right with the launch of its housing department. Visit ottawamission.com to learn more.

FOR INFORMATION OR TO ARRANGE AN INTERVIEW PLEASE CONTACT:
Aileen Leo
Director of Communications
T. 613.234.1144 x 305
C. 613-712-3092
E-mail: aleo@ottawamission.com

Helping Those in Need this Easter:

Ottawa Mission Serves 10,084 Meals to Meet the Shocking Increase in Hunger in Ottawa

Ottawa, ON – During The Ottawa Mission’s special Easter meal service, which was held on April 18 for shelter guests in our dining room and community members through our service entrance, as well as the week prior through our Mobile Mission Meals food truck program, the shelter served 10,084 meals to those in need. Shelter guests and community members enjoyed a full roast beef dinner on April 18, while Mobile Mission Meals clients took home a delicious turkey dinner.

The current pandemic has resulted in shocking increases in hunger in Ottawa. To meet this deepening need, The Mission has added a second truck and an additional 12 stops to its food truck program. The program began in September 2020 with 5 stops serving 100 meals at each stop and has grown over the course of the pandemic to now 31 stops serving about 7,000 meals per week to people in need across the city of Ottawa.

“This is a new record for one of our special meals and four times the number of meals we served for Easter 2019, the last Easter before the pandemic. The astounding increase in hunger in our community is one reason why we’ve expanded our food truck program several times across our community,” noted Chef Ric Allen-Watson, Director of Food Services for the Mission. In 2019, the shelter served 2,659 Easter meals.

“Ottawa was already in a homelessness emergency and an opioid-use epidemic when Covid-19 came upon us. And now hunger is at urgent levels across our city because of the pandemic. Given the overwhelming impact on our collective mental health, finances, food insecurity, and risk of homelessness, we anticipate remaining the first place of refuge for even more vulnerable people after Covid-19 has passed,” noted Ottawa Mission CEO Peter Tilley.

“Our dedicated volunteers and also our exceptional kitchen staff worked very hard to ensure that everyone had a delicious Easter. And special thanks to our donors and supporters who have been profoundly generous in their continuing support of The Mission in these continuing difficult times. A huge thank you to all,” Tilley concluded.

About The Ottawa Mission
Since 1906, The Ottawa Mission has been serving those who are homeless, hungry and lost by providing food, clothing, shelter and skills. In 2020-2021, The Ottawa Mission provided emergency shelter to an average of 185 men every night and served an average of 1,994 meals every day.  The Ottawa Mission also provides to men and women health services, mental health and addiction treatment programs, hospice care, dental services, housing services, educational support, job training, spiritual care, and clothing to thousands in need in our community. In September 2020, The Ottawa Mission marked the one millionth hour that the shelter has been in existence since its founding in 1906. In 2019, the Mission became a housing-focused shelter reflective of its commitment to a home for everyone as a human right with the launch of its housing department. Visit ottawamission.com to learn more.

FOR INFORMATION OR TO ARRANGE AN INTERVIEW PLEASE CONTACT:
Aileen Leo
Director of Communications
T. 613.234.1144 x 305
C. 613-712-3092
E-mail: aleo@ottawamission.com

CTV News Ottawa: Ottawa Mission adds food truck to help deliver meals during Easter long weekend

Not everyone can afford a hot Easter meal this weekend.

The Ottawa Mission says the demand and need for food is greater than ever in the community.

The shelter has added a new mobile food truck just in time to deliver meals to more neighbourhoods this holiday weekend.

“We have been out all week going out into different communities in Ottawa, communities where people would not see an Easter dinner,” said Peter Tilley, CEO of Ottawa Mission.

Ottawa Mission graduates first class of Food Services students trained exclusively at “Chef Ric’s”

More than 90% of graduating students secure employment in the food services industry

Ottawa, ON – Today the first class of Food Services Training Program (FSPT) students trained within “Chef Ric’s”, The Ottawa Mission’s new social enterprise housed within the former Rideau Bakery, received their diplomas. Of the 13 graduates for this class, 11 have found employment in the sector. This graduation ceremony was dedicated to Rachel Hauraney, a student with this FSTP cohort who had secured a position in the industry, but sadly passed away unexpectedly earlier this month.

One of those graduates is Forough Alikarami. Originally from Iran, Forough arrived in Canada in July 2021 and began volunteering in The Mission’s kitchen shortly after that. “I wanted to make a career and do what I love. Working in the kitchen helped me prepare for the FSTP. I knew what I wanted and this program opened a new window for me.” Forough is working at a local restaurant and couldn’t be happier.

The FSTP is the creation of Chef Ric Allen-Watson, The Mission’s Director of Food Services. Finding himself alone and homeless at age 14, he knows the power of paying it forward. “Someone reached out to me and showed me that education could help. And that why I started this program: to give people the help they need to rebuild their lives.”

Since the inception of the FSTP in 2004, 226 people have graduated from the program, 90% of whom have gone on to positions in the food services industry. In September 2021, operations for the FSTP were moved from The Ottawa Mission’s kitchen to “Chef Ric’s”, The Mission’s new social enterprise to add more space and increase the capacity of the program. These new graduates are the first to be trained exclusively at the new location.

“As Ottawa emerges from the pandemic, we anticipate that The Ottawa Mission will remain the first place of refuge for increasing numbers of very vulnerable people going forward for the next several years. By expanding this incredibly successful program at Chef Ric’s, we’re doing our part to help even more people in need,” Ottawa Mission CEO Peter Tilley concluded.

About The Ottawa Mission
Since 1906, The Ottawa Mission has been serving those who are homeless, hungry and lost by providing food, clothing, shelter and skills. In 2020-2021, The Ottawa Mission provided emergency shelter to an average of 185 men every night and served an average of 1,994 meals every day.  The Ottawa Mission also provides to men and women health services, mental health and addiction treatment programs, hospice care, dental services, housing services, educational support, job training, spiritual care, and clothing to thousands in need in our community. In September 2020, The Ottawa Mission marked the one millionth hour that the shelter has been in existence since its founding in 1906. In 2019, the Mission became a housing-focused shelter reflective of its commitment to a home for everyone as a human right with the launch of its housing department. Visit ottawamission.com to learn more.

FOR INFORMATION OR TO ARRANGE AN INTERVIEW PLEASE CONTACT:
Aileen Leo
Director of Communications
T. 613.234.1144 x 305
C. 613-712-3092
E-mail: aleo@ottawamission.com

Investing in Community: Recognizing Connor, Clark & Lunn

The Ottawa Mission is known as the city’s largest housing and homelessness service provider. But behind the meals being served and the housing applications being sent, there are very dedicated partners working to make it all possible. One of those partners is Connor, Clark & Lunn Financial Group (CC&L Financial Group), an investment management firm with a strong social conscience.

As a multi-boutique asset management firm, CC&L Financial Group is comprised of different investment organizations across Canada and in the United Kingdom. Each affiliate group contributes to CC&L Financial Group’s charitable foundation, the CC&L Foundation, which exists to support the art­­s, communities, education, the environment, science and medicine.

“The work that The Ottawa Mission does is really important in the Ottawa community, and it is a great alignment with our values,” explains Michael Walsh, Managing Director, CC&L Financial Group.

While the work of The Mission falls most clearly within the group’s “community” charitable pillar, it actually spans several others as well. In addition to providing needed food, shelter and clothing to people who are vulnerable, The Mission also offers educational support and healthcare for clients.

With a hospice, dental clinic, primary care clinic and addictions treatment on site, The Mission offers wraparound care for clients in need. Its Stepping Stones Learning Centre helps clients finish high school, go through job training, and even work through college courses.

CC&L Financial Group first got involved with The Mission in 2018 with a corporate donation, driven by Richard Pope, Vice President at CC&L Private Capital. Growing up in Ottawa, Pope has a personal connection to the Ottawa Mission.

“After my parents divorced when I was young, my mother lived in Ottawa below the poverty line and used many of the local support services in the community” notes Pope. “Before her passing in 2015, she had good things to say about The Ottawa Mission. For me, supporting the work of The Ottawa Mission is my way of saying thank you and giving back to a great cause in the community.”

Over the years, CC&L Financial Group’s involvement has grown and they were a matching partner for the 2021 Blue Door at Your Door musical fundraiser and also sent a special gift for Covid-19 relief.

“The Covid pandemic has affected each of us in a different way and has been particularly challenging for the low- and no-income community,” says Walsh. “We wanted to try to support that community as much as possible in these tough times.”

As investment managers, CC&L Financial Group understands the importance of planning ahead and ensuring a strong future.

“You can point to all the great work that The Mission has done over the years and continues to do, and [our partnership] continues to support those needs and helps them plan for the future.”

This ability is invaluable to provide stable support for those in need. The Mission’s Erin Helmer works with companies of all sizes to help The Mission do just that.

“Our corporate engagement program has something for everyone and is fully customizable,” she says. “We are proud to partner with companies like CC&L Financial Group, and we’re grateful they’ve stepped forward to be a Business on a Mission.”

For any companies looking to invest in The Mission’s essential community programs and services, you can learn more at ottawamission.com/corporate-giving.

Giving to Support Those in Need

Help The Ottawa Mission Serve 10,000 meals this Easter by Donating Frozen Turkeys and Produce

Ottawa, ON – As we head into spring after a long winter, planning is underway for The Ottawa Mission’s annual Easter Dinner, which will take place on Monday, April 18th at the shelter. The Mission will also be serving Easter meals the week before through its first food truck launched in September 2020 and its new food truck being launched on April 11. The two vehicles will provide a full Easter dinner at 31 locations across Ottawa. The Mission is launching this second truck to meet the unbelievable need for food in our community. With the addition of the new truck, The Mission anticipates serving more than 10,000 Easter meals – a new record for the shelter.

The impact of the continuing pandemic on hunger in Ottawa has been profound. In 2020 – 2021, the number of meals served by The Ottawa Mission grew by 40% from the previous year to 727,903 meals to shelter residents and those in need in the community. Because of worsening hunger, the shelter introduced its food truck program in September 2020, which has grown to providing over 3,600 meals each week in 19 locations throughout the city. Since September 2020, the food truck has served over 225,000 meals. The shelter estimates that it will serve 950,000 – 1 million meals this fiscal year.

“It will take 4,500 pounds of turkey, or 250 large turkeys to feed everyone who comes to our special Easter dinner,” says Chef Ric Watson, Director of Food Services at The Mission. “Our kitchen volunteers and staff are working very hard to ensure that everyone will have a delicious turkey dinner by preparing for this very special event in advance.”

Also on the menu will be: 1,500 pounds of beef; 100 pans of stuffing; 3,000 lbs. peeled potatoes; 1,000 lbs. glazed fresh carrots; 150 gallons of gravy; and 900 vegetarian quiches.

Donations of frozen turkeys and produce can be dropped off between 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. at the garage entrance to The Ottawa Mission at the corner of Waller and Besserer. Please ring the bell and a staff person will arrive to receive your donation.

About The Ottawa Mission
Since 1906, The Ottawa Mission has been serving those who are homeless, hungry and lost by providing food, clothing, shelter and skills. In 2020-2021, The Ottawa Mission provided emergency shelter to an average of 185 men every night and served an average of 1,994 meals every day.  The Ottawa Mission also provides to men and women health services, mental health and addiction treatment programs, hospice care, dental services, housing services, educational support, job training, spiritual care, and clothing to thousands in need in our community. In September 2020, The Ottawa Mission marked the one millionth hour that the shelter has been in existence since its founding in 1906. In 2019, the Mission became a housing-focused shelter reflective of its commitment to a home for everyone as a human right with the launch of its housing department. Visit ottawamission.com to learn more.

FOR INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Aileen Leo
Director of Communications
T 613.234.1144 x 305
E-mail: aleo@ottawamission.com

Statement on Occupation of Downtown Ottawa

On February 6, the City of Ottawa declared a State of Emergency in response to the continuing occupation of the downtown core and numerous untoward and dangerous incidents associated with this situation. As our city heads into a possible fourth weekend of occupation, The Ottawa Mission supports this declaration and subsequent measures by the provincial and federal government to address this situation given the size and duration of the blockade and its profoundly negative impact on our community as a whole.

On February 3, The Ottawa Mission sent a private message to organizers of the occupation urging them to leave the city, noting

“The recent messages posted by Cornerstone Housing for Women, The Shepherds of Good Hope, the Youth Services Bureau, and many other organizations, all highlight the disruption, pressure and angst that this demonstration has brought to the clients and staff of these organizations, a group of people already exhausted by the strains of the pandemic. We here at The Ottawa Mission are no different. We have had to scramble to carry on with full operations given the number of volunteers who were unable to make it in during the first weekend of the blockade, which made it much more difficult to carry out our daily operations. The constant noise from truck airhorns, some of the actions of the groups of protesters, as well as the continuing closure of public spaces due to the blockade, has placed a tremendous strain on the mental health of our clients, many of whom have advanced mental health conditions. As well, our staff and volunteers who live downtown have also seen a significant decline in their overall wellbeing due to the incessant noise and disruption caused by the blockade.”

Despite the continuing pleas of the citizens of Ottawa to regain their city and the urging of the clear majority of Canadians for the truck convoy to leave Ottawa, the occupation continues.

As with all Canadians, the people of Ottawa have experienced unprecedented hardship, stress and anxiety coping with the ongoing pandemic and doing everything they can to keep people safe from infection. Adding on top of this the unnecessary and damaging effects of the occupation has made things much worse for all residents of Ottawa, particularly those who are the most vulnerable.

In light of this continuing and extremely difficult situation, we urge all governments and those within the occupation to end this situation quickly and peacefully.

If you support this statement please sign your name below:

Statement on Occupation of Downtown Ottawa

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