November 15, 2023

Ottawa Mission forced to raise donation ask for meals in response to high inflation and surging hunger

Ottawa, ON – In the wake of ongoing high inflation and shocking increases in hunger across our community, The Ottawa Mission has been forced to increase its ask to donors to cover the costs of individual meals to $4.68.

The last time The Mission raised its meal donation ask was in 2017, when it was raised from $2.97 to $3.47. Since that time, inflation has risen by almost 22%, and the number of meals served annually by the shelter has surged from 484,494 to 1,057,489, an increase of over 215% as deep hunger spreads across our city.

“Over 60% of our annual budget is supported by our donors, who are caring and compassionate people. Without them, we couldn’t possibly provide our 17 programs to help so many people rebuild their lives,” noted Ottawa Mission CEO Peter Tilley. Since 2017, the percentage of The Mission’s budget supported by its donors has grown by over 20% as community need has increased sharply in a post-pandemic environment.

One example of a Mission program supported entirely by donations is its food truck program. Beginning in September 2020 in response to the pandemic with one truck and five stops, it served 500 meals per week. Since that time, it has expanded to two trucks and 35 stops serving over 7,000 meals per week. The Mission also operates a grocery program through the food truck program, providing a small bag of groceries to each client who receives a meal. This past fiscal year, the shelter handed out 51,161 bags of groceries.

“Some clients have told us that they go hungry until our trucks come. Others have told us that our food truck helps them with feeding their families since the cost of groceries has risen so much,” Tilley noted. A 2021 survey showed that 34% of food truck program clients are families with children.

“Over the past several years, we’ve worked hard to maintain our ask for donations at $3.47 per meal despite the increasing cost of food and community need. This effort is supported by our wonderful volunteers, hundreds of whom help us deliver services that are desperately needed,” noted Tilley.

However, we’ve been able to keep our meal ask low for only so long, and time has come when we have no choice but to ask our generous and steadfast donors to help us for by contributing just a bit more. The good news is that even with this increase, our meal costs remains low and far below the average cost of a meal.  Our generous donors, volunteers and community partners are key to us continuing to meet the needs of our community in a compassionate and cost-effective way,” 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 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