January 11, 2024

Food Services Training Program graduate students to new careers and new lives

Ottawa, ON – Today The Ottawa Mission celebrated the graduation of 22 students of its renowned Food Services Training Program (FSTP) trained at “Chef Ric’s”, the shelter’s social enterprise at 384 Rideau Street.

One of these graduates is Mehal. The program has given her the knowledge and confidence to pursue a new career. “The Food Service Training Program has been so beneficial. I’ve found my passion and now know that I want to continue pursuing my culinary career. I have a science background and this is a big step away from that. I’m now applying to culinary schools, looking to expand on all that I’ve learned from the FSTP. Without this program, I’m not sure how I would’ve broken into the food service industry. It’s given me the experience to take that next step,” she notes.

2024 marks the 20th anniversary since the inception of the FSTP. Since that time, the program has graduated 334 students, almost 90% of whom have found employment in the food service industry. The Mission will celebrate this tremendous achievement later this year.

The FSTP was created by Chef Ric Allen-Watson, The Mission’s Director of Food Services. 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 I started this program to help other people in need. After 20 years, I couldn’t be happier that we’ve helped and continue to help so many people in our community who need support.”

Mehal attests to this. “They offer you help in many different areas beyond cooking. They’ve helped me build my resume, provided pointers on how to find work, and even organized life coaching sessions. I’ve seen my progress from when I started the program, to now. I’ve gained quite a lot of experience with different styles of cooking and catering, learning new recipes and even developing my own.”

As Ottawa continues to deal with chronically high inflation, hunger, poverty and homelessness, The Mission will remain the first place of refuge for increasing numbers of vulnerable people for the next several years. “At Chef Ric’s, we’re doing our part to help even more people in need by helping people graduate to new lives,” 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 2022-2023, The Ottawa Mission provided emergency shelter to an average of 177 men every night and served an average of 2,898 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