Seventy-year-old Maurice Kiel elbows his way toward Scott Mission executive director David Smith and leans in to shake his hand. “Give my compliments to the chef,” Kiel says. “I will, Mo,” responds Smith.

Nearby, a frail elderly man with a cane is ushered to a table. He says: “I feel like Jesus.”

Thanksgiving Day at the Scott Mission is a busy one — some 400 meals must be prepped and cooked. That translates into 30 turkeys, three 15-kilogram boxes of potatoes and three 15-kilogram boxes of salad, and scores of volunteers.

Smith oversees the operation like a conductor leading a symphony.

The Thanksgiving meal not only provides sustenance for the body but also for the soul, he says.

The Scott Mission is one of several places across the GTA where Thanksgiving meals were offered yesterday for those who are homeless, jobless or without family.

Demand for all services at the Scott Mission is up because of the recession, says Smith.

For every four people the mission served last year there is now a fifth, he explains. At the same time, donations are down by about 25 per cent or about $1 million so far this year.

Scott Mission isn’t alone. Many other agencies and shelters across the city are facing similar problems — the need is up, donations down.

The homeless are particularly hard hit by the recession this year, but the Scott Mission is also seeing many new faces, including those who have lost their jobs in the manufacturing sector and don’t have money, says Smith.