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The Ottawa Mission says demand to feed people is the highest in two decades


Hundreds of people sleeping on the streets every night, thousands being fed at The Ottawa  Mission.

The pandemic, inflation and mental illness expose the other side of Ottawa, and the Mission is now coping with an unprecedented demand for food and shelter.

The Ottawa Mission has compiled the annual numbers. Close to one million meals have been served over the past year.

"People line up with walkers, wheelchairs, with their children," Mission Executive Chef Ric Watson says. "Quite often you’ll hear how embarrassed people are that they have to use this service to feed their families. And it’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.

"Two-hundred-and-10 people per night are sleeping rough, out in the streets in the city of Ottawa," Mission CEO Peter Tilley says. "That’s quite a high increase and quite a number. And the risk being that, these are the summer months here in the city. We all know what happens down the road coming up in the winter months.": 

Another example of the demand for meals was the Easter Dinner. Usually, Chef Ric cooks about 2,500 meals. This year the kitchen prepared 10,000 dinners. And there are people from all walks of life who need the help.

"We’ve seen devastating increases in the number of people suffering from mental health issues," Tilley says.

To help ease pressure, The Mission has food trucks set up through the city. The Mission launched its food truck program in September 2020 serving five communities. Now two trucks serve locations across the entire city.

"We are currently serving 32 communities across Ottawa over 7,000 meals. It’s mind-blowing," Watson says. "The weather could be freezing cold, rain, or even super hot. There’s always a lineup waiting for the food truck to arrive." Top Stories

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