As we approach the holiday season, we reflect on how our community has come together to cope with the challenges imposed by the ongoing pandemic. And as we consider how to show our love for those closest to us at this special time of year, we also reflect on how to support those members of our community who are our most vulnerable citizens.
While things look somewhat brighter now than they did earlier, the lingering effects of the pandemic are nonetheless severe. For example, the number of people sleeping outside has almost doubled, and there are devastating increases in mental health problems, substance use and overdoses.
But the most severe change has been a shocking increase in hunger. At the Ottawa Mission, they meet this need head on each day.
Prior to the pandemic, the Ottawa Mission served just over 495,000 meals annually. This past year, the shelter’s annual number of meals almost doubled to more than 938,000 meals. That means the Mission served almost one meal for every person in Ottawa.
The Mission launched its food truck program in September 2020. Beginning with one truck and five stops, it served 500 meals per week. Since that time, it has expanded to two trucks and 32 stops serving over 7,000 meals per week.
The Mission also operates a community meal program through its shelter, providing one hot and two cold meals to each person plus a small bag of groceries. This past year, the shelter handed out 62,624 bags of groceries.
Many food truck clients have told Mission staff that they go hungry until their trucks come. Others have told staff that the food truck helps them with family dinners since the cost of groceries has risen so much.
Through its meals to shelter guests and its community meal and food truck programs, the Mission’s average daily number of meals served is now over 3,000. This means that the shelter is on track to serve more than one million meals this year.
In addition to meals and groceries, the shelter also continues to serve thousands in our community through emergency shelter, mental health and addiction programs, primary, hospice and dental care, housing services, education and employment support, job training, spiritual care, and clothing.
Giving Tuesday, on Nov. 29, is a collective call to invest in organizations like the Ottawa Mission dedicated to making our community a better place. DYMON, a local storage company and long-time valued partner of the Mission, has stepped up to make donations on Giving Tuesday go twice as far.
DYMON has pledged to match gifts to the Mission up to $25,000 on Nov. 29, so it’s the perfect way to double the impact of a donation.
Now in its 10th year, Giving Tuesday helps us give back to our community and to the causes we care about most.
So as we consider how to mark the holiday season, please think about those in our community who need our support most and give to the Ottawa Mission through a donation on Giving Tuesday to help our most vulnerable citizens.