Ottawa, ON – During The Ottawa Mission’s annual Christmas meal, which was held on December 17 as well as the week prior to this date through the shelter’s food truck program, The Mission served 17,427 meals – a new record for a special meal service.
“It took 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 did 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; 17,427 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.
The shelter’s annual meal numbers have more than doubled since the beginning of pandemic, rising from 495,000 in 2018 – 2019 to 1,057,000 in 2022 – 2023. The pandemic and now inflation means even more people are having to choose between feeding themselves and their families or paying their housing costs, and turning to the shelter for help. “I’ve been at The Mission for over 20 years, and I’ve never seen hunger this shocking in our community,” Allen-Watson added.
In addition to this special meal, the occasion also provided a sense of warmth and community to those in need who would otherwise be alone.
“While we are so pleased to be providing this special meal for both shelter guests and community clients, we remain very concerned about the shocking increase in hunger across our community due to the pandemic and inflation. We look forward to working with all levels of government in 2024 to address those conditions which caused so many people in need to turn to our shelter for help, including poverty, lack of affordable housing, and other factors,” 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.
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