OTTAWA – The Ottawa Mission says demand for its services is skyrocketing as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
The need for daily meals has almost doubled, and it could go even higher.
For an organization that has served Ottawa for 115 years, this past year will go down in history.
âThe past year was exceptional because it was a year where we fought despite the pandemic and we continue to do so,â said Peter Tilley, CEO of Ottawa Mission.
The pandemic has placed an unprecedented demand on their services, especially when it comes to feeding the hungry.
No one has been busier than executive chef Ric Watson, who hasn’t missed a meal throughout the pandemic.
âBefore COVID-19, we were 1,400 meals a day. When COVID hit, our meals, and even now, are about 2,600 meals a day, âsays Watson. âWe decided that we would open the garage door and distribute bags and that in each bag there would be three meals because that’s what our customers are used to. It would be one hot meal and two cold meals.
The annual report of the Mission reveals how the pandemic has forced a change in the way they support their customers in every way.
âMeals, shelter, clothes; all of these things in a time of a pandemic, that has been our biggest challenge over the last year and a half, âsays Tilley,â but we rose to the challenge and continued to provide services. “
Despite a growing housing crisis, the mission found housing for 144 clients.
A food truck donated by Pelican Seafood Market and Grill owner Jim Foster helped the mission deliver meals across town.
âIt was one of those things that I walked in every day, and we had it sitting in the back door, and it’s a big truck. And you know, it’s kind of built on us; it really hurt to have him sit there, âsaid Foster. âI said, ‘Hey boss, can you predict this will work for you? And they came back real quick and they were super excited.
The food truck changed everything for the Ottawa Mission.
âTo date, with this food truck, we’ve served over 150,000 meals,â Watson said. âThis truck goes to different communities in Ottawa; 19, in fact, in a week.
A total of 720,000 meals were served during the last fiscal year and up to one million is estimated for the next.
âCertainly here in Ottawa we are seeing great community support to help us get through this ordeal,â said Tilley, âwhether it’s from Ottawa Public Health, Ottawa Inner City Health or our donors. We will continue and provide services to this vulnerable population as best we can.