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Downtown Mission reducing to only one community meal per day


Downtown Mission officials say they are being seriously challenged to provide three meals per day to community members who are struggling with food security and will be making reductions.

As a result, effective July 1, 2024, the mission’s Board of Directors and Leadership Team has made the decision to provide one community meal only, which will be available to any hungry person who is without food and has no other place to eat a nutritious meal.

Executive Director Rukshini Ponniah-Goulin says it is due to increasing food costs and a reduction in donations.

People who are sheltering at the mission through the Sanctuary Program will continue to receive breakfast, lunch and dinner as before.

“It’s a hard set of circumstances that has led us to take this unprecedented course of action. For almost eight years we have proudly served three meals to the hungry among us. But expenses continue to escalate, while our donations have not kept pace. We have no other choice until we can find additional sources of revenue and gifts-in-kind,” said Ponniah-Goulin.

The Downtown Mission in Windsor, Ont. on Monday, June10, 2024. (Chris Campbell/CTV News Windsor)

"What they do here is amazing," stated volunteer, Matt Prell.

Prell, along with other volunteers from Burning Bush Fellowship Church in Windsor, was helping repair picnic tables on Monday, suggesting demand on staff and support workers is high.

"They need donations. That's the only way it works," Prell said.

He continued, "People need to eat. Right? And the outreach workers here in the city will come and provide, but there's not enough. There's just not enough. They need funding here."

"We have to realistically see where we are today and where we can be in the future for those who need us the most," Poniah-Goulin explained. "Our food costs are through the roof and have been over the last year."

Poniah-Goulin told CTV News the Mission's food budget in 2023 started at $375,000 but ended up topping $495,000 by the end of the year, "It's a huge increase that we weren't expecting. And of course we were doing what we can to reduce costs, using as many donations as we can in terms of food donations as well, but it's still expensive because we do have to purchase things like meat and milk and stuff like that typically aren't donated."

She added, "It's financially something we needed to do to make our future more sustainable and possible for those who need us the most. But it's also in terms of providing a safer space for the individuals who need to be here. Allowing less people into our facility throughout the day will allow more space for those who need to be here, as well as more time for our staff to spend with those individuals to make sure they are getting the services they need the most."

The Downtown Mission is urging people with housing to find alternative arrangements for their breakfast and dinner. If possible, potluck with neighbours, preparing meals at home with what is available, or accepting the support of a friend and family.

“Obviously if someone is truly in desperate circumstances, we will feed that individual, it is our sacred vow. No one will go hungry,” said Ponniah-Goulin.

The mission is also working with its community partners to coordinate and compile a list of social service agencies, their meal programs and serving times. This information will be shared with individuals needing food security as soon as it becomes available.

The Downtown Mission will gladly accept donations to the food program either in person at the office located at 875 Ouellette Avenue or online at Top Stories

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