Our food operations team – which provides more than 16,000 fresh meals to our domestic violence shelter families every year – has long known the power of a good meal served with a side of kindness. Now, thanks to a new group of like-minded food service professionals, that care has increased exponentially.
Formed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Miami Valley Meals uses the collective talent of local chefs combined with community generosity to provide free meals to groups – like YW – who are actively feeding those in need of nourishment.
“We began as a group of friends and former coworkers, furloughed by the pandemic and looking for the best way to serve our city,” explained Matt DeAngulo, culinary director. “Fast forward to today, and we’re now able to support our community through more than 20 client organizations that serve at-risk populations by creating frozen meals utilizing recovered food items and donations.”
The impact of the meals cannot be understated, said Tia Lurie, director of operations at YWCA Dayton. “It gives us so much peace of mind – we serve three meals a day in shelter, 365 days a year – and this really helps to supplement our efforts,” she said, noting that YW has received 50 meals a week since the spring, totaling more than 1,800 meals delivered, including a special Thanksgiving spread.
Amanda DeLotelle, Miami Valley Meals’ executive director, said that YW’s mission particularly resonates with their group’s vision. “YWCA is dedicated to promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all, and we believe in the power of a good, hearty meal, served with dignity. If you are down or going through challenging times, we hope we are able to make even a bit of difference through thoughtful food, made from a place of friendship and community.”
Since its launch, Miami Valley Meals has prepared more than 90,000 meals for organizations across five counties, using more than 57,000 pounds of food rescued from donated sources. Favorite recipes include the chickpea tikka masala, seven-bean soup, and baked apple crumble.
“It’s rewarding working with shelters especially focused on women and children because we are giving these individuals one less thing to worry about,” said Kary Ellen Berger, media manager and administrative coordinator. “By providing a nutritious meal, we are nourishing their bodies and showing them love in a simple way.”
DeLotelle agreed. “YWCA has made it their life’s work to simultaneously protect and empower. Miami Valley Meals hopes to provide hearty, filling food as fuel for this mission to face challenges and make progress every day.”