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Ottawa Mission serves record number of Easter meals on Monday

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The Ottawa Mission has broken another record for the number of Easter meals served on Tuesday.

The shelter says 17,405 meals were served to those in need during the week leading up to Easter. The Mission's food truck program had been serving Easter meals all week leading up to a special Easter dinner on Monday.

The number comes close to the number of meals served during the holiday season last year, with 17,427 meals served to those in need leading up to Christmas of 2023.

The Mission says the record number of meals comes in response to an increase in extreme hunger in Ottawa, food inflation and homelessness.

On Monday, hundreds turned out for the Mission's annual Easter dinner.

On the menu was 7,000 pounds of turkey, 3,500 baked potatoes, 3,500 pounds peeled potatoes, 2,000 pounds vegetables, 150 gallons of gravy and 900 vegetarian quiches.

"We've been working on this meal for a few weeks now. Lots of volunteers and staff working with us and it's been it's been long days for sure," says The Mission's executive chef, Ric Watson.

"It's unbelievable the changes in the last few years, the demand for food, the prices are so high, but we're glad that we're able to help people out."

Residents enjoying an Easter meal at the Ottawa Mission on April 1, 2024. (Tyler Fleming/CTV News Ottawa)The food got some positive reviews.

"It's very tasty, it's very good, plus get to meet people from the community to do a little socializing," says John O'Hara, who was at the Mission for the Easter meal. 

During Easter of 2023, the Ottawa Mission served 14,454 meals to those in need, a record at the time.

"It's heartwarming, it's a celebration of a holiday and when I look at the Ottawa Mission, it really is the depths of community," says Steve Georgopoulos, who's been volunteering at the shelter for more than 25 years.

"It touches the soul. Every plate is made with with loving kindness and also served with loving kindness."

The shelter has been struggling to keep up with an unprecedented demand from the community that is showing no signs of slowing down. Last year, the Mission said the meals served annually had sky rocked from nearly 500,000 per year to 1,057,489 – a 200 per cent increase.

Ottawa Mission CEO Peter Tilley is thanking the donors and supporters of the organization who made the dinner possible.

"This only happens because of the donors and supporters who get behind the Ottawa Mission. We're serving 3,000 meals a day, so it's a nice time to put together a special meal and take a break from the regular activities," Tilley said.

The Mission has been serving those who are homeless, hungry and lost by providing food, clothing, shelter and skills since 1906.

More information on the Ottawa Mission and ways to get involved or donate are available on its website.

With files from CTV News Ottawa's Kimberley Fowler and Tyler Fleming

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