Ottawa Mission serves record number of Christmas meals

The Ottawa Mission’s Christmas dinner returned in-person for the first time in three years on Sunday, with volunteers handing out a record number of warm meals to those in need during the holidays.

CEO Peter Tilley says it’s been a big week for the organization as they handed out more than 14,000 meals this week, marking the ongoing need within the community.

“We are seeing incidents of hunger in the community like never before,” Tilley said. “It just shows the need in the community as the demand continues.”

The meal was the first time in three years that the organization has opened it’s doors to the community for a sit down meal since the pandemic.

“It’s a lifesaver because I experience loneliness and depression, and this is a time of year that’s really rough and the Mission is always there for us,” said one woman at the holiday meal, who didn’t want to provide her name to CTV News.

On the menu this year, 6,500 lbs of turkey with all the trimmings, more than 3,000 lbs of potatoes, 150 gallons of gravy, as well as vegetables and dessert.

Around 200 volunteers prepared and served the meal.

“It’s very rewarding getting to know all these people and knowing that at the end of the day, pretty much everyone is almost a pay cheque away from getting a meal here,” said Svjetlana Gavric, who has been volunteering with the Ottawa Mission for 13 years.

Tilley says many can’t afford to put dinner on the table for Christmas and the meal brings more than a full stomach.

“Christmas is so much more than a holiday dinner,” he said. “Christmas is a sense of belonging and community that people get when they come under our roof.”

Tilley says on any given day, the organization serves over 3,000 meals to shelter residents and those in need within the community.

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