Dear friends of Open Table,

We have all been experiencing the effects of measures put in place to try and flatten the curve related to COVID-19. There have been tremendous acts of love in evidence as people try and protect those most vulnerable in our communities. Many of us are also experiencing the challenging impacts of social isolation, as we lose our in person opportunities for connection.

In light of this, the Open Table Committee has decided to cancel the March 29 Dinner due to the COVID 19 protocols as outlined by the Ottawa Public Health 
BUT we will still be meeting (just not in person)

Join us Sunday, March 29th at 6pm for a Zoom Open Table gathering

Come to laugh, share and hang out
…Open Table Style! Plus, stay tuned for resources for ongoing mental, spiritual and physical health during this time.

While we can’t share a literal table and meal we can offer connections around a Zoom Open Table. Stay healthy, safe and like your mum used to say, “Wash Your Hands”


Love to all,

Lila Ibrahim,
Community Development Coordinator
The Open Table


Good Luck on the Rest of the Semester

Have you ever been swarmed by 1000 university students wanting free food during exam season? I have, and let me tell you, it isn’t as scary as you might think. This semester the Open Table hosted their second Exam Survival Table in conjunction with the Campus Chaplaincy Office and it was a tremendous success! From the minute we arrived on campus with our car load of food (trust me when I say this car was FULL), we already had students patiently waiting for our table to be open. When it finally was, a line up immediately began. Two and a half hours, $500 dollars worth of food and 1000 students later, our table was happily empty. Even the volunteers were shocked by just how quickly the food had gone in the couple hours we were in the University Centre. There are a lot of reasons to explain why our event was so successful including the fact that students love two things: food and free things but even more so, I think the true key to success was the radical hospitality aspect of the Exam Survival Table.


A lot of students asked the volunteers “So… What’s the catch?”, expecting that they would suddenly have to sell their soul for a free muffin and a juice box. The Open Table was there simply to support students in a time of need, no strings attached and I think a lot of students were excited about it. They were excited to know that even during one of the most stressful times of the year when even they forget to take care of themselves, someone in Ottawa wanted to look after their well being. All we wanted was for students to feel a little better about their day with some free food than they would have before. Radical hospitality doesn’t have to be grand gestures. It comes through in the simple actions that on campus ministry can provide. As a community, we never want to change your opinions on something and we never want to be exclusionary towards people who might not be the same as us. The Open Table purely wants to help out when we can, in whatever way we can.

If you were one of the students who came by our table this semester, thank you so much! It was great having the opportunity to talk to you for however much time we had. Hopefully your exams are going well and that juice box, muffin or yogurt helped you through the day. To the students we didn’t get to see on campus, good luck on your exams too! Know that someone is thinking of you and hopefully you can find a time to enjoy simple things like a good conversation with friends and some good food. Best of luck on the rest of the semester everyone! You can make it through, I believe in you.


Exam Survival Tables: University of Ottawa

uOttawa University Centre (Near Agora)
April 19th | 10:00am – 3:00pm

Exams are stressful, but breakfast is still the most important meal of the day! Studies have shown that eating before tests help improve your performance. So take a moment to grab a snack before you slay those finals!

We’ll be giving away FREE coffee, tea, muffins, bagels, fruit, veggietables, cookies, granola bars, key exam supplies and more!

Sponsored by: The Open TableOCRCC & The uOttawa Christian Chaplaincy (UCU 321)

Find this event on Facebook by clicking here.


Exam Survival: We Told You You Could Do It!

I want to start this blog post off by sending out a huge congratulations to all of the University of Ottawa, Carleton University and Algonquin college students who survived their 2015 fall semester exams. You triumphed over long days (and longer nights) of studying. You overcame stressful due dates and hand cramps after writing multiple exams. You defeated what looked like a never ending 11 days of finals that makes the average person want to curl up in bed and avoid all further commitments. You did it.

Hopefully now you are blissfully absorbing a few days of well deserved relaxation, enjoying the last few days of 2015 with your loved ones and friends before 2016 brings in a new tidal wave of work (bet you just can’t wait right??).  The Open Table is also taking a bit of a holiday break before our next meal on January 30th. I’m using this time to reflect on one of our exciting challenges this year, our Exam Survival Table. The Open Table is committed to spreading radical hospitality to people in the Ottawa community through our monthly meals but this year we wanted to do something bigger. Hosting an exam surival table, which consisted of over $300 worth of food was set up in the University Centre on December 15th 2015 and open to anyone who wandered by- and a LOT of people wandered by. Between 10:00am and 2:00pm we gave out juice boxes, yogurt, cookies, granola bars, muffins and hundreds of oranges to about  1500 students! Now is that radical or what?

It was incredible to our table go from jam packed to empty in only a couple of hours, my favourite thing was seeing the excitement on student’s faces when they heard the words “free food”. During exams, most waking hours of a student’s day is devoted to catching up on missed readings, writing pages of notes or cramming before an exam, leaving very little time to eat or go grocery shopping. It was incredible chatting with students who visited our table and getting to know them a little bit better. Simple questions like “how are your exams going” or “what are your plans for the holidays” gives people a little break from the typical seclusion that exams create and helps create new connections. It was funny hearing people ask “Soooo…. what’s the catch” and then seeing the surprise when one of our volunteers would answer “No catch, we’re just here to help!” The bible constantly reminds people that it is our job to lend a hand whenever is possible, without looking for anything in return. Free food and a little encouragement was all we wanted to provide- hopefully it helped.

When exams come rolling around in April *shudder*, the Open Table will have set up camp in the University Centre at the University of Ottawa once again with all the free food you can carry and big smiles on our faces. Enjoy the rest of your holidays folks and remember- stay rad(ical)!


Surviving Final Exams: You CAN Do It!

Exam season is here! Feelings of burn out are probably far too prominent in your life. You’re wondering why on earth you decided that getting a post-secondary education was a good idea. You’re hating your alarm clock and caffeine has become your new friend. The end of the semester seems so close but still so far away! You have probably asked yourself “Can I survive this?” at least once a day. The Open Table is here to tell you: Yes, you can and WILL survive your exams. You just have to have a little faith. We’ve put together a list of 10 ways to survive this stressful period of exams. Head over to our Exam Survival page for more tips and tricks!

  1. Remember to eat well.

Food is your body’s fuel. It keeps you going throughout the day. Taking 10 minutes to eat a proper breakfast, lunch and dinner will do your body a world of good. Even if you don’t think you have time, there are options both on and off campus that can provide you with health food. On December 15th from 10:00am to 1:00pm, swing by the University of Ottawa’s University Centre and pick up a nutritious grab and go breakfast that will help you survive long days of studying.

  1. Get SOME sleep.

While you may not have time to get a full eight hours of sleep every night, make sure you are giving your body time to rest. Pulling all nighters constantly is just going to drain your body and make you feel sluggish throughout the day. Getting a good night of sleep helps your body process what you have learned throughout the day.

  1. Get outside for a couple of minutes

It may be hard to believe but there is an entire world outside of your dorm room, the library and whatever small corner you’ve set up your study camp in. Expose yourself to some natural light and fresh air. This will help you avoid falling into a zombie like state that too much exposure to artificial light can cause. Plug in an audio clip of a lecture or a reading for a specific class and go for a walk. Even taking the longer route to class in favour of getting some fresh air could benefit you in the long run.

  1. Do some basic exercises or stretches

A lot of people carry a lot of stress during exams which can have physical consequences on their body. Carrying too much stress in your jaw, back, shoulders or hands could result in your joints getting too stiff to write an exam or being able to sit comfortably. Sitting in the same position all day at the library could make some parts of your body seriously uncomfortable. There are lots of stretches you can do while studying or take a solid half an hour break to run over to the gym. Your body will thank you.

  1. Socialize with friends- in person

During exam time, staring at a computer screen for 10 hours a day copying notes can be really straining on our social lives. Make sure you don’t totally ignore your friends when you are stressed. They can actually be your biggest support system in times of stress. Go get coffee or even organize a study group. This will decrease your sense of isolation and if you’re an extrovert, it can be a time to recharge emotionally.

  1. Take some vitamins

Vitamins can provide you with a boost of energy and could make up for any lack of nutrients that your current diet may have missed. While these could end up costing you a little bit of money, taking a multi vitamin or heading to the store when you know there’s a sale happening could make it affordable and easy for you to get a proper in take of the nutrients that keep your body healthy.

  1. Communicate with your professors.

It may seem intimidating to send your professor an email explaining your current situation but if they are an understanding person, they will hopefully be sympathetic to your stress and can offer suggestions on how to manage your work load. Worst case situation is they ignore an email but at least you can say you tried!

  1. Create a schedule

While procrastinating an assignment or pushing aside readings for a couple of hours just to watch an episode or two of Netflix may seem like a good idea, it could easily come back and bite you in the butt when you’re still working on an essay at three in the morning (it’s okay, we’ve all been there).  Create a schedule and include Netflix breaks, meals, studying and writing time. By following this schedule you’ll likely feel more accomplished and on track with your work.

  1. Avoid alcohol and drugs

Whether you’re a big partier or someone who only drinks on occasion, save it until after exams. Hangovers kill productivity and that headache will probably make you want to just crawl back into bed, not write that essay. Keep hydrated with lots of water and save those alcoholic drinks until you can actually relax. (Note: Any time you do decide to have a drink, ALWAYS BE RESPONSIBLE. Know your limits and always watch your drinks).

  1. Use positive self-affirmations

Stress can do a lot of really negative things to our psyches. You may be cursing yourself for not starting an assignment earlier or beating yourself up over the fact that you slept through a really important lecture. Take a couple minutes to breathe and remind yourself that you are worthy of love, respect and kindness. You can’t change the past so there is no point belittling yourself. Positive affirmations like “I am smart enough to be in this class” or “I know I am capable of getting this task done if I just focus” can really help you stay on track and motivated.

Good luck with the studying everyone! Hopefully we will see you at our Exam Survival Table on December 15th at 10:00am! Until then, best of luck with those exams and stay rad(ical)!


Emily Sams (uOttawa Community Development Coordinator)