Bannock bus delivering meals to people of Ottawa

Regulars say, with COVID-19, services like the Bannock Bus are needed.

Jeff Budge drives the bannock bus through the streets of Ottawa delivering hot meals to those who need it.

“I feel great man, you know. Do something good for the people,” Budge said.

“They’re always happy to see us.”

APTN News rode along with Budge in the bannock bus. He delivers up to 30 meals a day.

With temperatures dropping, Budge said winter gear is also needed.

“We give out socks, mitts, hats and scarves people need winter coats.”

The bus operates out of 510 Rideau, a drop-in centre in downtown Ottawa operated by the Odawa Native Friendship Centre.

Bannock Bus
Centre 501 in downtown Ottawa where clients can come and do laundry or get a hot meal. Photo: Jamie Pashagumskum/APTN.

The Bannock Bus also delivers to homes and has a daily route with scheduled stops downtown; bringing hot food and good cheer.

Merya Sheutiapik, a regular client for the bus, said it’s needed more now than ever during a pandemic.

“A lot of things have been going down because of COVID. And missing family,” she said.

And they’re like family to me now because I see them almost every day.”

The program has hit a few road bumps throughout the years.

Program coordinator Carrie Diabo said finding the money to run the bus has been at struggle at times.

“For a couple of years for the funding they lost the van because it was too old and it was second hand and it was too expensive to repair,” she said.

The Bannock Bus is funded by service Canada through Ontario Federation of Indian Friendship Centres.

As long as the money lasts, the hot meals will keep on rolling.

Reporter / Ottawa

Originally from the Cree Nation of Chisasibi on the eastern coast of James Bay, Quebec, Jamie has lived in Ottawa since 2015. Trained in journalism at Carleton University, he has worked as a freelance print journalist and as a writer/researcher for the Cree unit of CBC North out of Montreal. Jamie was hired as the reporter/correspondent for the Ottawa bureau in October 2019.

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