Ottawa is often thought of as a prosperous community, yet it has deep pockets of hunger, made worse by COVID-19. For instance, The Mission is located in Ottawa-Vanier—an area with the highest food bank usage in Ontario.
So that no one goes hungry during the pandemic, we modified our community meal program to supply three takeout meals a day through our garage so clients could continue to be fed without entering our shelter.
Itohan is a refugee from Nigeria and a new employee at our meal service. She fled her home in Nigeria because her two young daughters were about to be forced into marriage. Once in Canada, Itohan looked for work. That’s when she applied and was accepted to our Food Services Training Program.
In the program, she felt at home. “I fell in love with the kitchen,” she notes with fondness.
Of Chef Ric, she says, “I love him. He’s like a father: he calls us once in a while and asks, ‘what do you need?’” Itohan finds joy in serving community meal program clients. “I love giving them food. It makes me happy,” she says.
We also launched our Mobile Mission Meals food truck to feed people who couldn’t travel to our shelter due to disability, lack of money for transportation, or other reasons. We began with five stops Monday through Friday, delivering 100 meals at each stop. The Mobile Mission Meals truck now has 19 locations rotating throughout our community. What’s more, the truck provides over 3,000 meals, seven days a week!
Every day, hundreds of people line up at our food truck.
Cicely, a graduate of the Food Services Training Program who works in the Mobile Mission Meals food truck says, “I meet families, street people, people with addictions, seniors, and many others. COVID-19 has hit people hard — people who are out of work and isolated. Our food program gives them something to look forward to.”
Clients often go hungry until our truck comes. But because of you, they are now being fed.
“I like being part of something new and adaptive which lets us reach more people since we provide such beautiful meals for them. Clients are so polite and thankful,” Cicely adds.
The novel “Chef’s Ric’s” project empowers people to move toward independence, self-sufficiency and dignity by:
- providing a retail space where people can purchase healthy and affordable ready-to-eat meals
- expanding the Food Services Training Program — helping over 90% of our graduates to find jobs in the food industry
- expanding the catering service, with proceeds supporting the Food Services Training Program
One of Chef Ric’s new employees is Mercy. Originally a nurse from Ghana, Mercy also fled her home in 2019 because she was about to be forced into a marriage. Upon arriving in Canada, she had difficulty securing the support she needed to feel safe, included and valued until she enrolled in the Food Services Training Program.
“Getting into this program was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Coming here, I felt accepted. This program gave me hope. I saw it not only as an opportunity but also a career. Cooking for the community, I finally saw myself fulfilled. Waking up every morning and having this responsibility, it gave me joy, it gave me happiness,” says Mercy.
Mercy graduated in May 2021 and now works in the baking department. “This has increased my confidence and self-esteem. I’m so grateful to The Mission.”
On behalf of all of our Food Services Training Program graduates and our meal program clients, thank you to all our donors and supporters. Your kindness means so much.