A mission that began more than six years ago expanded during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and is now providing meals to organizations that feed those in need every week.
Former owner of Evans Bakery, Bill Evans, created Set the Banquet Table in 2015 with the hopes of supporting nonprofits focused on feeding the hungry. With several board members in place, including local chef, Matt DeAngulo, talks in 2020 began about what Set the Banquet Table could do as COVID-19 shutdowns started. That’s when Chef Matt’s former co-worker at Citilites, Amanda DeLotelle, was brought into the conversation and a new purpose for Set the Banquet Table came into focus – Miami Valley Meals.
“There are many hard-working organizations in the region that have dedicated themselves to serving those in need,” said DeLotelle, the executive director of Miami Valley Meals. “We wanted to support those organizations with chef-prepared hearty meals that not only nourish but also open doors to further services. Miami Valley Meals is here to, ‘Serve those who serve the hungry.’”
Many of Miami Valley Meals chefs and support staff are former co-workers from Citilies, which was located in the Schuster Center and shut down in January 2020.
“We were able to assist quickly and efficiently because we had a core group that was already familiar and friendly with one another,” DeLotelle said. “Those who joined as we grew fit in seamlessly and further strengthened that team bond.”
In March 2020, Miami Valley Meals began cooking and serving at House of Bread, followed by St. Vincent de Paul and then started preparing meals at Life Enrichment Center. The Miami Valley Community Action Partnership stepped up to provide initial funding and a few months later, a new partnership opened up at Lindy’s Bakery at Daybreak. Now, the Miami Valley Meals team is in their own headquarters in downtown Dayton, occasionally cooking at Our Lady of the Rosary while their own kitchen takes shape.
“We have been extremely grateful to have support across the Miami Valley – whether that be through space, knowledge, food, time or dollars,” noted DeLotelle. “All of it has contributed to this effort.”
Each week, Miami Valley Meals serves more than 40 partner organizations. And for the second year in a row, the organization is giving away Thanksgiving meals a day before the holiday.
Last year, 10,000 meals were given away at the University of Dayton arena and Trotwood-Madison High School. The goal for Miami Valley Meals this year is to give away 15,000 meals. The organization is also working with the Dayton Young Black Professionals to distribute meals at two satellite locations – Omega Baptist Church and the Boys & Girls Club. The Foodbank, which regularly provides donated food for the organization, will assist on this event with food sourcing, storage and trucks.
“No one should go hungry, ever,” said DeLotelle. “Around the holidays, the idea of a family meal can be especially disheartening for those who struggle on a daily basis. Our goal is to alleviate that pressure by providing Thanksgiving meals.”
Each meal will come with turkey, potatoes, green beans, and stuffing. Miami Valley Meals is teaming back up with Lindy’s Bakery as they will provide dessert.
You can learn more about Miami Valley Meals and the Thanksgiving meal distribution on Miami Valley Meal’s website.