15K free Thanksgiving meals to be given away Wednesday

Miami Valley Meals plans to give out 15,000 free Thanksgiving meals to Dayton-area people Wednesday at several Dayton locations

Meals will be distributed at the University of Dayton Arena, Trotwood-Madison High School, Omega Baptist Church and the Dayton Boys & Girls Club. Food distribution at UD Arena and the high school will be from 9 a.m. to noon. Meals at the Omega Baptist Church and the Dayton Boys & Girls Club will be distributed between noon and 3 p.m. and run by the Dayton Young Black Professionals.

Amanda DeLotelle, executive director of Miami Valley Meals, a nonprofit started during the pandemic by local chefs to feed people, said the event is first-come, first serve. People do not need to sign up ahead of time to get meals, she said.

Miami Valley Meals partnered with the Feast of Giving, who traditionally gives out thousands of meals on Thanksgiving Day at the Dayton Convention Center downtown. The Feast of Giving donated more than $59,000 to Miami Valley Meals for the event, he said.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Feast of Giving, in its traditional form, has been canceled for two years.

Dr. Stephen Levitt, a team member of the Feast of Giving, said there was no practical and safe way to have around 10,000 people, which was the size of the event in 2019, gather in the Dayton Convention Center to eat during the COVID-19 pandemic. He said he hopes to have the event in-person again soon.

Last year, Miami Valley Meals gave out 10,000 frozen Thanksgiving meals. This year, the organization plans to more than double that number.

But to do that, the organization needed a lot of prep time and a lot of food.

Miami Valley Meals culinary director Matthew DeAngulo said the organization ordered just over 7,000 pounds of turkey, plus 91 cases of green beans and 135 cases of potatoes.

“Each one of these individuals in this room are dedicated to making another life happier,” DeAngulo said of the people who were preparing the meals last week.

Volunteers, part-time and full-time staff have wored to create the meals, DeAngulo said, and they’ve been prepping slowly on weekends and freezing meals, which they’ve taken to the Foodbank for freezing.

DeAngulo noted that the average cost of a Thanksgiving meal this year is more than $53. The Dayton region has long been a food-insecure region, but the pandemic has exacerbated it, officials at the Foodbank have said previously.

“Those individuals that are not able to provide that, we still can give them opportunity to still feel like being part of a family,” he said.

By the numbers:

Pounds of turkey: more than 7,100

Cases of potatoes: 135

Cases of green beans: 91

Total meals provided: 15,000

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