Ottawa Mission’s Thanksgiving Meal will be its biggest meal ever served

As Thanksgiving approaches, The Ottawa Mission is preparing the most meals it will ever serve.

It’s a new reality as food prices soar and basic necessities stretch out of reach for many, leaving some who can no longer afford a turkey dinner.

For weeks, the kitchen at The Ottawa Mission operates all hours to be ready for a massive Thanksgiving crowd.

“We plan on serving about 12,000 meals in total,” Executive Chef Ric Watson says. “We’re deboning, cooking and serving about 600 turkeys and right now we have about 500 done. We’re hoping to get another 100 donated. There will be about 2,000 pounds of mashed potatoes, 150 gallons of gravy. It’s just astronomical numbers; it’s our biggest meal we’ve ever had in the history of the Mission.”

Dinners will be delivered throughout the week until Sunday, serving 32 communities across the capital. On Monday, meals will be served to residents at The Ottawa Mission. COVID protocols are still in place, which means for others, food will be served to guests outdoors. 

“The people that we’re getting these meals out to and that will come here on Monday to the Mission, they so appreciate it,” Watson says. “And we’re talking elderly, we’re talking youth, we’re talking every walk of life people can’t afford to go to the grocery stores and buy a turkey.”

Demand for The Mission’s services is at a historic high. Last year, nearly one million people required a meal as the soaring cost of living stretched budgets and left some having to choose between a hot meal or a warm bed.

“We didn’t realize the incidents of hunger during the pandemic and now post-pandemic was so, so high,” says CEO Peter Tilley. “And that’s a statement about what’s happening in Ottawa, what’s happening across the country with this inflationary rates like never before. What we’re seeing now is a different face of hunger, a different face of poverty, a different face of people coming into the shelters.”

Watson says the dedicated team is prepared to serve every person in the community who needs it.

“This is their Thanksgiving meal and we’re going to make it the best we can make it,” he says. “The volunteers are the heartbeat of The Ottawa Mission and we can’t thank them enough,and our donors we can’t thank them enough.”

Turkeys can be dropped off at the Ottawa Mission’s garage located on Besserer Street, or cash donations can be made online.

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