'I've never seen things so bad:' Ottawa Mission expanding food truck program to meet hunger needs
OTTAWA -- The Ottawa Mission says hunger in Ottawa is worsening due to COVID-19, and the shelter is expanding a food truck program to address food insecurity in our city.
Tuesday morning, the truck stopped at the Ottawa East Seventh Day Adventist Church. The Church is one the 13 stops the food truck makes, delivering more than two-thousand hot and nutritious meals a week.
“The need out there is astronomical,” says Chef Ric Allen-Watson, director of food services for the Mission. “I have been at the Ottawa Mission for 19 years and I've never seen things so bad in our world and our community. People are going hungry.”
The food truck program began in September as a way to bring food to communities in need who might not be able to come to the shelter due to COVID-19.
The truck had five stops, delivering about 100 meals at each stop. Now, the truck has 13 locations rotating throughout Ottawa each week and delivering more than 2,000 meals per week.
Since the launch of the program, almost 14,000 meals have been served through the program.
“I remember one day when we opened the garage door to give a meal and a gentleman came and he ran up and was tearing at a bag to get food,” Allen-Watson says. “This is Canada. I don’t know what is going on but it shouldn’t be like this.”
The program was expanded to meet the demand in communities like Overbrook. The councillor for the area, Rawlson King, says issues like hunger and poverty have only increased during the pandemic.
King says of the 107 ridings in Ontario, Ottawa-Vanier, which includes Overbrook, tops the list for food bank use.
The Mission is looking at ways to continue to expand the food truck program, including funding a new truck.