Ottawa, ON – Today 10 students of The Ottawa Mission’s celebrated Food Services Training Program (FSTP) celebrated their graduation from this initiative, joining the ranks of 200 people who have graduated since the FSTP began in 2004.
The impact of the FSTP on the program’s graduates can be profound. In the words of Mercy Abe, FSTP Valedictorian, “Getting into this program was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Coming here, I felt accepted, I felt that everyone wants me.”
For men and women looking to change their lives, the FSTP provides the skills necessary to work in a commercial kitchen. FSTP applicants must demonstrate only one qualification to be accepted into the program — a strong desire to change their lives for the better. Students pay no costs and we make sure they have all the tools they need to succeed. Students graduate with not only a credential that allows them to be self-supporting, but also with newfound confidence, pride and dignity.
The FSTP is more than a cooking program according to the Director of Food Services for The Ottawa Mission Executive Chef Ric Allen-Watson. “Teaching students how to cook is just one aspect of this program. People come to us and we give them, food, clothing, anything they need, but most of all, we give them love and a sense of belonging. For so many of our students, this is not something they’ve received a lot of in their lives, and it’s the foundation of their ability to succeed.”
Eight of these new FSTP graduates already have jobs in the industry and since 2004, 90% of students have found employment after graduation in the industry. In the summer of 2021, the FSTP will be moved over to the program’s new home at the former Rideau Bakery, which will be renamed “Chef Ric’s” in honour of Allen-Watson. The new site will combine the FSTP, The Ottawa Mission’s established catering social enterprise, and a new retail component where affordable and healthy prepared foods may be purchased for take-out. The grand opening for the new Chef Ric’s will take place in September 2021.
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 2019-2020, The Ottawa Mission provided emergency shelter to an average of 197 men every night and served an average of 1,422 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.
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