After more than 30 years in the bakery business, nearly a decade at the House of Bread and a lifetime of serving his neighbors in need through volunteer efforts at St. Vincent de Paul, Bill Evans sought his next opportunity to help. In 2015 he started a nonprofit called Set the Banquet Table. The original purpose was to create baking, cooking and dining opportunities with a ticket price that benefitted the food related charity of the purchaser’s choice.
As the pandemic reached Dayton’s doorstep in March of 2020, Executive Chef and Set the Banquet Table board member Matt DeAngulo faced the inevitable closures that were certain to devastate the hospitality industry. This uncertainty was dwarfed in comparison by the reality that many of Dayton’s most vulnerable would suffer further with the lack of accessibility, resources and transportation.
Chef Matt reached out to Bill Evans, a fixture in the realm of food insecurity, to ask the best way to help. In short order, Matt and former colleague Amanda DeLotelle activated a team of recently unemployed chefs and culinary professionals to assist local hunger relief efforts by quickly and efficiently preparing nutritious food in bulk. They began volunteering at the House of Bread, quickly followed by St. Vincent de Paul.
The team’s many volunteer hours were soon supplemented through Set the Banquet Table as their fiduciary. Word spread about the project through critical connections and by May of 2020, the project received initial funding from the Miami Valley Community Action Partnership utilizing Community Services Block Grant CARES Act dollars. The effort was also supported by a coalition of seasoned nonprofits serving those in need. During this transition, the organization’s leadership shifted as project founders Matt and Amanda took on the roles of Culinary Director and Executive Director, and Bill continued lending his guidance as Chairman of the Board.
As the pandemic persisted, the team was nomadic in nature, utilizing gracious host kitchens and working with partners at the Life Enrichment Center and eventually Lindy's Bakery at Daybreak. What started as emergency response assistance for these operations quickly grew into a “recover and transform” effort, where chefs utilize donated food to create hearty, delicious meals for distribution through a network of partnering nonprofits. This unique partner-based model allows the team to use their culinary skills to provide valuable support to existing organizations, all while feeding the hungry and reducing food waste.
The program became known as “Miami Valley Meals,” and as the focus of Set the Banquet Table evolved to share the program’s mission, the nonprofit made the move to officially change its name to Miami Valley Meals with the State of Ohio in December of 2020.
Meals are currently prepared, stored and distributed from a leased headquarters near downtown Dayton, and a full kitchen buildout is in progress with an anticipated October 2021 completion date.
Miami Valley Meals attests that food, as a basic human need, can open the door to further connections and opportunities to make progress, and its passionate team stands ready to serve and support the Miami Valley region for years to come.
To learn more about our partnering organizations, click here.
To learn more about our prepared meal program, click here.
Miami Valley Meals Board Members include citizens with experience in culinary arts, business, and education.
Our culinary team transforms recovered foods into hearty, chef-inspired meals to be distributed to a network of partners serving the hungry in the Miami Valley. This is our core focus and we currently distribute an average of 3,500 meals per week. Check out our Partners page to learn more!
Our model aims to reduce food waste in the supply chain and also in our own facility. The majority of our meal ingredients are recovered foods, mainly from the Foodbank. Any food scraps that result from processing are composted to create mulch for our future garden.
Hosted at the Gem City Market Community Teaching Kitchen, our free culinary education classes focus on basic techniques to build flavor and improve the taste of participants' home-cooked meals. This program is currently on break and will return soon!