Ottawa, ON – The Ottawa Mission’s food truck program, established in September 2020 in response to growing hunger resulting from the pandemic, has recently surpassed the mark of serving 500,000 meals to people across the city of Ottawa who would otherwise go hungry.
“The pandemic, combined with food inflation, has meant that our meal numbers have exploded across this city – it’s unbelievable,” noted Chef Ric Allen-Watson, the shelter’s Director of Food Services. Before the pandemic, The Mission served 495,000 meals. This past fiscal year, it served 938,000 meals, with meals served from the food truck program comprising a significant portion of this total number.
The program began with one truck and five stops serving 500 meals per week to reach people across the city who could not travel to the shelter for meals due to disability, lack of funds for bus fares, or other reasons. “Our program now has two trucks, 34 stops across the city and serves over 7,000 meals per week. According to a 2021 survey of food truck program clients, 51% of food truck program clients visited the program weekly, and 34% of clients were families with children,” Allen-Watson added.
Beginning with one food truck from the Pelican Seafood Market and Grill that was not being used due to the pandemic, the Mission added a new truck in 2021 as the program gradually expanded. Recently, after over two years of faithful service, the shelter has had to retire its first food truck since it was more than 20 years old and regularly needed repairs to stay on the road.
“Food truck clients have told us that they sometimes go hungry ̶ even for days ̶ until our food trucks come. This program, which costs hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, is funded entirely by our supporters. I want to express our deepest gratitude to our donors, who, through their incredible compassion and generosity, continue to provide much-needed nutritious food to vulnerable people across our community,” Peter Tilley, CEO of The Ottawa Mission noted.
“Finally, I want to say to all three levels of government: we need to address the reasons why people across our community and our country are increasingly turning to food-support programs like ours just to survive. We need to address the root causes of why people are turning to these programs, including poverty, lack of meaningful adjustments to income support programs, a continuing lack of affordable and supportive housing, and other factors,” 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 2021-2022, The Ottawa Mission provided emergency shelter to an average of 118 men every night and served an average of 2,570 meals every day. The Ottawa Mission also provides to men and women health services, mental health and addiction treatment programs, primary care, 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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