Some of the city’s best known chefs join together to feed the hungry in Dayton

Founded by an army of local chefs and community leaders, Chefs Feed Dayton is working hard to address the issue of hunger in Dayton with fresh and thoughtful meals.

Combined ShapeCaption
Founded by an army of local chefs and community leaders, Chefs Feed Dayton is working hard to address the issue of hunger in Dayton with fresh and thoughtful meals.

With the closure of many restaurants and shortage of grocery items across the Miami Valley due to the coronavirus pandemic, many Daytonians have struggled to find healthy and thoughtful dining options. To address the issue of hunger in Dayton, especially during the pandemic, a coalition of local chefs and community leaders has come together to come up with a quick and effective solution: “Chefs Feed Dayton.”

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For the past two weeks, the team, headed by Matt DeAngulo, former executive chef at Citilites, includes London Coe, owner of Peace on Fifth, a gift store dedicated to raising awareness about human trafficking; Amanda DeLotelle, a catering and event specialist; Bill Evans, the former owner of Evans Bakery and current philanthropist with Set the Banquet Table; and many other chefs and local community leaders, set out to find innovative ways to spread love within the Dayton community. After a period of (very) brief soul-searching, the team discovered that the easiest way to nourish the community in this trying time was to provide fresh and thoughtful cuisine from award-winning chefs to those in need.

“While we cannot physically go and get people things, we still want to kind of push this notion of love and being heart-fed, as well as belly-fed, into their personal conversations,” Coe said. “So that’s a big part of what the heart and what the cornerstone of this group is. And so the name ‘Chefs Feed Dayton’ is just that — it’s chefs feeding Dayton.”

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In essence, the group has multiple goals when it comes to ensuring that Daytonians have full hearts and full stomachs. For one, the group is utilizing its collective talents to provide flavorful dishes to local shelters and food pantries around the Miami Valley. Apart from lending their talents to the actual meat of the operation, they will also work to provide essential items, like linens and kitchen supplies, to the staff at various shelters and food pantries around the city.

“We want to help the needy and also give what we can to make those facilities better than when we found them,” DeAngulo said.

Beginning on Tuesday, the group, armed with an array of talented local chefs, began prepping fresh food and making meals for local shelters and charity organizations, including Saint Vincent de Paul.

Combined ShapeCaption
Founded by an army of local chefs and community leaders, Chefs Feed Dayton is working hard to address the issue of hunger in Dayton with fresh and thoughtful meals.

Founded by an army of local chefs and community leaders, Chefs Feed Dayton is working hard to address the issue of hunger in Dayton with fresh and thoughtful meals.

Combined ShapeCaption
Founded by an army of local chefs and community leaders, Chefs Feed Dayton is working hard to address the issue of hunger in Dayton with fresh and thoughtful meals.

Due to recent restrictions put in place by state health officials and Gov. Mike DeWine, the workers involved in this mission are limited, as they work to keep nine feet apart at all times, and work to have little to no interaction with the public to avoid any possibility of spreading the virus. Though they are not delivering to individuals in need, only to larger shelters and food pantries, Chefs Feed Dayton is hoping to soon utilize mobile grocers, such as Joyvin Mobile Grocer based in Trotwood, to address the needs of individuals affected by hunger.

As of today, Chefs Feed Dayton has crafted over 600 meals for the hungry in Dayton — and the group plans to do much more in the coming months.

Long after this current crisis subsides, Coe and the rest of her team want to maintain a large and talented coalition of chefs who can be called into action to solve the area’s hunger issues with brains and brawn.

“We would love to work ourselves out of a job, but until that day, we will work,” said Coe. “We are a team that wants to get our hands dirty, so when the pandemic is over, we will find another way to feed people that still presents chef-inspired food and that conversation. This is now just about getting people food — physical food — this is about feeding them, like in their marrow, with the kind of love and attention that we think Dayton deserves and needs.”

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Though the core message of Chefs Feed Dayton will remain the same, it’s the other moving parts, like wait staff, a permanent kitchen space and funding that still need to be put into place. The group was formed less than two weeks ago. Its goal is to demonstrate that feeding the hungry in innovative, delicious ways can be possible.

“At the core, we want to be very thoughtful, and we want this idea of creating a model that can be transferred across the country, very specifically, so that it’s not just a group of rogue chefs going from place to place, cooking for people, but that this becomes kind of a template for how you push love through that space, through food,” Coe said.

For the time being, though, the coalition will work hard to relieve the tension created by hunger in the present pandemic. For the next two months, at least, the team will be working with a number of local shelters to not only provide food to the needy, but to give chefs a way to contribute their talents while many restaurants are closed.

To donate to their cause, pay a visit to Set the Banquet Table's website. For more information about the initiative, pay a visit to chefsfeeddayton.com.

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