Category Archives: Media Releases

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

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

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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Continuing to Help Those in Need to Address Hunger Made Worse by the Pandemic: The Ottawa Mission Serves an Astounding 6,274 Christmas Meals

Ottawa, ON – During this Christmas season, The Ottawa Mission has served an astounding 6,274 to people across the city of Ottawa, the highest total of special holiday meals ever in the shelter’s history. Normally The Mission serves 2,000 – 2,500 Christmas meals each year. This year, the ongoing pandemic has made hunger in Ottawa much worse, and in response, The Mission served a full Christmas meal with all the fixings to:

  • its shelter guests;
  • clients in our take-out community meal program;
  • food truck clients from December 12 – 18;
  • clients within the Routhier Covid19 self-isolation centre and the Dempsey and Nicolas overflow homeless shelters;
  • residents within Ottawa Community Housing and clients of the Youth Services Bureau; and
  • other community organizations throughout the city.

“I’ve been at The Mission for 20 years, and I’ve never seen hunger this bad in our community,” noted Chef Ric Allen-Watson, Director of Food Services at The Mission. “It took 4,500 pounds of turkey, or 250 large turkeys, to feed everyone who receives our Christmas dinner. I want to thank the people of Ottawa for their incredible generosity by donating so many turkeys, produce and other food items to ensure that we could help meet this need by providing a full Christmas dinner to so many people. I also want to thank our kitchen volunteers and staff, who worked so hard to make these meals.” Also on the menu were: 100 pans of stuffing; 6,000 dinner rolls; 3,000 lbs. peeled potatoes; 1,000 lbs. glazed fresh carrots; 150 gallons of gravy; 900 vegetarian quiches; and 6,000 desserts.

“The ongoing pandemic has meant a significant change in our operations, including our meal program to minimize the risk of Covid19 while delivering desperately needed food,” noted Ottawa Mission CEO Peter Tilley. The Mission currently serves 2,600 meals per day to people in need both at its shelter and also through its food truck program, which has 19 stops throughout the city. If trends continue, the shelter will deliver over 900,000 meals this fiscal year.

“Poverty, homelessness and food insecurity are serious public health issues and all have been made much worse by this pandemic. Here at our shelter, we’re doing our part to address food insecurity and keep people healthy through our meal program,” 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, PLEASE CONTACT:

Aileen Leo
Director of Communications
T 613.234.1144 x 305
E-mail: aleo@ottawamission.com

Giving to Support Those in Need: Help The Ottawa Mission Feed the Hungry this Christmas by Donating Frozen Turkeys

Ottawa, ON – As we head into the holiday session, planning is well underway for The Ottawa Mission’s annual Christmas Dinner, which will take place on Sunday, December 19th.

Covid19 protocols to keep shelter guests, community members,
employees and volunteers safe while continuing to deliver essential support remain in place at the shelter. Accordingly, the Christmas meal for shelter guests will begin at 11:00 am in the Mission dining room. The Christmas meal for community members who would otherwise go hungry will be available at the garage entrance beginning at 11:00 am – 3 pm. To continue to support vulnerable community members as much as possible, The Mission will also continue to provide two additional meals for community members to take with them.

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 3,000 meals each week in 19 locations throughout the city. The week before December 19th, at all food truck stops, The Mission will serve a full Christmas dinner to anyone who requests one. Since September 2020, the food truck has served over 170,000 meals. Because of the addition of the food truck meals, The Mission estimates that it will serve 5,500 – 6,000 holiday meals this year, up from the 2,500 – 3,000 meal totals in previous years before the pandemic.

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

Also on the menu will be: 100 pans of stuffing; 6,000 dinner rolls; 3,000 lbs. peeled potatoes 1,000 lbs. glazed fresh carrots; 150 gallons of gravy; 900 vegetarian quiches; and 6,000 desserts. Frozen turkey donations can be dropped off between 7 am – 5 pm at the garage entrance to The Ottawa Mission at the corner of Waller and Besserer. Please ring the bell and a staffperson 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

Ottawa Mission graduates first class of Food Services students trained 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, 12 have found employment in the sector.

One of those graduates is Erica Lafrance. A survivor of abuse and violence, she relocated to Ottawa with her children to rebuild her life. When she heard about the FSTP, she knew it would help her get back on her feet. “When I first heard about Chef Ric’s, there was something very comforting about it. I love the community feel of Chef Ric’s. There’s compassion and there’s heart here. Because of this program, I’m in the driver’s seat of my own life now.” Erica 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, 203 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 shelter to Chef Ric’s to add more space and train up to 75 people each year, doubling the capacity of the program.

“As Ottawa gradually 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 CEP 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
613-712-3092
E-mail: aleo@ottawamission.com

Continuing to Help Those in Need: Ottawa Mission Served 6189 Meals to Those Who Are Hungry This Thanksgiving

Ottawa, ON – During The Ottawa Mission’s annual Thanksgiving dinner program, which was held on October 12th as well as the week prior to Thanksgiving through the shelter’s food truck program, The Mission served 6189 meals. On any given day, The Ottawa Mission serves over 2,500 meals to shelter residents and those in need in the community. During special meals such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, The Mission provides 5,000 – 6,000 meals for those who would otherwise go hungry.

“It takes 4,000 pounds of turkey to feed everyone during our special Thanksgiving dinner,” noted Chef Ric Watson, Director of Food Services at The Mission. Also on the menu was: dinner rolls (5,000); peeled potatoes (2500 lbs); glazed fresh carrots (1000 lbs); gravy (150 gallons); vegetarian quiche (900); individually wrapped desserts (5,000).

Despite being a wealthy city, Ottawa has some of the highest rates of hidden hunger in the province. The riding of Rideau-Vanier where The Mission is located has the highest use of food banks in Ontario. As well, Ottawa South and Ottawa West-Nepean are among the 10 ridings with the most food bank users per capita.

Food insecurity contributes to poor mental health, diabetes and heart disease. In 2020 – 2021, The Mission served 727,903 meals to those who would otherwise go hungry, the highest number in the shelter’s history. If current trends continue, the shelter will deliver 900,000 – 1 million meals in 2021 – 2022.

The continuing pandemic, now in its 20th month, has made hunger in our community much worse. This is one reason why The Mission launched its food truck program, which delivers over 3,000 meals per week at 19 community partner locations across the city to ensure that those who cannot travel to the shelter due to disability, lack of funds for transportation, or other reasons do not go hungry. The shelter is working to expand this program is response to overwhelming community need.

“Poverty, homelessness and food insecurity are serious public health issues. We at the Ottawa Mission are doing our part to address hunger and keep people healthy through our meal program,” said Ottawa Mission CEO Peter Tilley. “Our kitchen volunteers and staff worked very hard to ensure that everyone had a delicious turkey dinner. And our donors and supporters have been profoundly generous in their support. 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 health services, mental health and addiction treatment programs, hospice care, dental services, housing services, educational support, job training, spiritual care, and clothing to thousands of men and women 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

C 613.712.3092

aleo@ottawamission.com

Diane Morrison Hospice marks 20 years of providing care for homeless community members

Shelter also releases community impact report, including providing 728,000 meals in response to hunger 

 Ottawa, ON – Today, The Ottawa Mission and Ottawa Inner City Health (OICH) marked the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Diane Morrison Hospice to provide palliative care to homeless community members. 

Wendy Muckle, CEO of Ottawa Inner City Health, noted the reason the Hospice was founded. “People who are homeless or street-involved have a much higher burden of serious physical and mental health conditions and addictions. As a result, our clients can die up to 20 years’ earlier than people who have permanent homes. Think of that: because you have no home, your risk of premature death increases dramatically.” 

A fundamental principle of the Hospice is that no one dies alone. The provision of care is based on ensuring the dignity of all people reflective of their inherent value as human beings. The Hospice extends unconditional acceptance to people who are homeless by providing palliative care appropriate to their needs. 

A federal grant enabled OICH and The Mission to establish the Hospice. By bringing care directly to those who are homelessness, the project sought to show that this model of care is more accessible, appropriate, and improves clinical outcomes. “Over the past 20 years, the Hospice has demonstrated this,” Muckle added. 

Dr. Jeffrey Turnbull, OICH Medical Director, noted the evolution of the burden of illness of Hospice patients and the care provided to them. “While 20 years ago AIDS was a major cause of mortality for people who were homeless, with advances in treatment, premature death for this population has dramatically declined. Now, the causes of death are related to the impact of addictions and mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other afflictions. This population suffers from very high rates of alcohol consumption, smoking and other addictions, which leads to cancer, Hepatitis C, and organ failure.” 

While many people within the Hospice die within months, some do not. They have chronic palliative conditions, which have a life expectancy of one year, compared to those patients with terminal conditions which end in premature death within three months or less. With their admission to the Hospice, they receive care, proper nutrition, and other supports, so their health improves and they can return to where they were living before or in new accommodation. “The Hospice has proven that people with lived experience of homelessness who are ill can get better with the proper care and supportive services,” Dr. Turnbull added. 

In addition to providing appropriate and accessible care, the Hospice is also cost-effective. Five years after it opened, a review of the Hospice’s cost-effectiveness was undertaken. This analysis determined that compared to the acute care system where the cost per patient would have been $900 per day, care within the Hospice cost $70 per day. Over the course of one year, cost savings for care were projected for a group of 28 patients at $1.39 million. The Mission and OICH are exploring options to update this analysis based on this evolving context to reflect the current work of the Hospice, combining both acute and chronic palliative care.

 Lynn Landis, Director of Health Services for The Mission, noted the circle of care that the Hospice provides. “We provide a person-centred atmosphere that celebrates the life of our patients. They have personal effects in their rooms, and special celebrations include birthdays and holiday parties. Personal support and peer support workers help patients through assistance with activities of daily living such as feeding and bathing, as well as listening to patients. Many patients have painful conditions such as cancer, and pain and symptom management is essential to ensure their comfort. Managing addiction is also critical. Managed Alcohol and Managed Opioid Programs employ a harm reduction approach through providing patients small amounts of each substance throughout the day. Their physical and psychological symptoms are controlled, and their quality of life is improved.” 

Landis also spoke of the importance of spiritual care, including grief support. “Spiritual pain and loneliness are some of the most profound afflictions of people who are homeless. Many are estranged from their families and have few or no friends. Our circle of care surrounds them, including spiritual support. Our spiritual care team listen to their stories and provide comfort, alleviating their fears. When a patient dies a memorial service is held to allow a patient’s family, friends, Hospice volunteers and colleagues to provide solace to one another,” she added. 

Learn more about The Ottawa Mission’s Hospice at 20

The Mission also released its annual impact report which outlines its community impact over its past fiscal year. Among the most significant responses by the shelter to community need during the pandemic has been a huge increase in the number of meals over last year through its modified community meal service as well as its food truck service. Beginning with five stops delivering 500 meals per week, this food truck service now has 19 locations rotating throughout Ottawa 7 days a week that deliver over 3,000 meals per week. Since it started, the food truck has delivered more than 150,000 meals to people across Ottawa. The Mission also has a waiting list of partners who want to join this program. “This has meant that over our last fiscal year, we served almost 728,000 meals. Every time I think of this figure, I’m blown away by the level of need and the number of people this represents,” noted Mission Director of Food Services Chef Ric Allen-Watson. 

“If current trends continue, this year we’ll deliver between 900,000 and 1 million meals. Every single day our truck goes out across Ottawa, and hundreds of people line up to receive the meals they need to survive. People line up in walkers, in wheelchairs, and with their kids. People who never had to worry about feeding themselves and their families until Covid-19 arrived come to our truck to survive. Food truck clients tell us that they go hungry, sometimes for days, until our truck comes. In a wealthy city like Ottawa, this is wrong – just plain wrong,” Allen-Watson added. 

Despite the ongoing impact of Covid-19, Peter Tilley noted the additional accomplishments of The Mission over the past year, including: 

  • Providing emergency shelter to 1244 people.
  • Finding permanent homes for 144 people.
  • Hosting 15,362 primary care patient consults in its health clinic working with OICH.
  • Having 85 graduations from its Addiction and Trauma Services program, and 39 graduations from its education and job training programs.
  • And work to open “Chef Ric’s”, the Mission’s new social enterprise which expands our successful Food Services Training Program and provides healthy food to people at very affordable prices. 

“Ottawa was already experiencing a homelessness emergency and opioid-use epidemic before COVID-19. Given the impact of the pandemic 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 the pandemic has passed,” Tilley concluded. 

Learn more about The Ottawa Mission’s impact

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
C. 613-712-3092
E-mail: aleo@ottawamission.com