November 23, 2023

Food Insecurity in Ottawa at an All-time High

Shelter Will Surpass 2022–2023 Annual Meal Count and Serve Record Number of Christmas Meals this year

Ottawa, ON – The Ottawa Mission is on track to surpass its shocking all-time high annual meal count of 1,057,489 meals from its past fiscal year as it prepares to serve a record number of special Christmas meals from December 10 – 17. Thus far this year the shelter has served over 600,000 meals to vulnerable community members. Based on the total of 16,496 Thanksgiving meals served from its food truck program and shelter in October, it expects to serve almost 17,000 special Christmas meals this December.

“It will take 7000 lbs. of turkey, 3500 lbs. of peeled potatoes, 2000 lbs. of vegetables, 150 gallons of gravy, and 900 vegetarian quiches to ensure that those who turn to us for help this Christmas do not go hungry,” said Chef Ric Allen-Watson, Director of Food Services for the Mission.

Prior to the pandemic, the average number of meals served each Christmas was about 2,500; the estimate of 17,000 is almost seven times that number. While the pandemic has waned, persistent high inflation and other factors have meant surging numbers of people who are turning to the shelter for basic necessities such as food. “I know what it’s like to go hungry, and it’s my mission to ensure that no one who turns to us for help does,” Allen-Watson added.

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 staff-person will arrive to receive your gift.

On November 27 and 28, monetary donations to support the Christmas meal and other vital programs at the Ottawa Mission will be matched by DYMON Storage and can be made at In addition, DYMON will be donating a meal for every Ottawa Mission Giving Tuesday post that is shared on the Mission’s social media channels. “DYMON is a longtime invaluable partner in supporting our 17 programs to help vulnerable people rebuild their lives,” CEO Peter Tilley concluded.

About The Ottawa Mission
Since 1906, The Ottawa Mission has been serving the homeless, the hungry and the lost by providing food, clothing, shelter and skills. In 2021-2022, The Ottawa Mission provided emergency shelter to an average of 118 men every night and served an average of 2570 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 a new housing department.

Aileen Leo
Director of Communications
T 613.234.1144 x 305
C: 613.712.3092