Ottawa Mission says demand to feed people highest in two decades
Hundreds of people sleep rough every night, thousands are fed at The Ottawa Mission.
The pandemic, inflation and mental illness are exposing the other side of Ottawa, and the Mission is now facing unprecedented demand for food and shelter.
The Ottawa Mission compiled the annual figures. Nearly one million meals have been served over the past year.
“People are lining up with walkers, wheelchairs, with their children,” said mission chief executive Ric Watson. “Quite often you’ll hear how embarrassed people are to have to use this service to feed their families. And that’s because of the rising cost of food. The cost is unbelievable.”
And the number of people living on our streets is also increasing and alarming.
“Every night, two hundred and ten people sleep rough on the streets of the city of Ottawa,” said Mission CEO Peter Tilley. “That’s a pretty big increase and a pretty high number. And the risk being that it’s the summer months here in the city. We all know what’s happening on the road ahead in the winter months. ” :
Another example of the meal request was the Easter dinner. Usually, Chef Ric cooks around 2,500 meals. This year, the kitchen prepared 10,000 dinners. And there are people from all walks of life who need help.
“We’ve seen a devastating increase in the number of people with mental health issues,” says Tilley.
To help ease the pressure, the Mission has set up food trucks throughout the city. The Mission launched its food truck program in September 2020 serving five communities. Now two trucks serve locations throughout the city.
“We currently serve over 7,000 meals in 32 communities across Ottawa. It’s breathtaking,” says Watson. “The weather can be freezing, rainy or even very hot. There is always a queue for the arrival of the food truck.”