Dayton-area nonprofit to provide around 6K free Thanksgiving meals

More local restaurants than ever are offering Thanksgiving meals you can pick up ahead of time, whether that’s full-blown turkeys or the sides. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman
More local restaurants than ever are offering Thanksgiving meals you can pick up ahead of time, whether that’s full-blown turkeys or the sides. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

Around 6,000 free Thanksgiving meals will be given away to people in need by Miami Valley Meals, a new nonprofit started during the pandemic.

The organization was started in March by chefs and culinary professionals who lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic. They make and distribute frozen meals for area foodbanks and community kitchens but on the day before Thanksgiving they will distribute prepared meals made by them with the help of community volunteers.

“Coming from the hospitality industry, I’ve always come from a place where I know the power of food on anybody, it can really change your day. So just knowing that we can help our community and maybe bring a little joy and some good tasting food to them is a real honor and we’re just here to serve our city,” said executive director Amanda DeLotelle.

The organization will give away free frozen Thanksgiving meals with turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, a pumpkin dessert and dinner roll on Nov. 25, the day before the holiday. The meals will be packaged as family or single meals.

“Since we’re making these meals all the time, it wasn’t a far stretch to be like, ‘hey like amp up production and lets add two distribution sites for Thanksgiving,’” DeLotelle said.

The Miami Valley Meals coalition includes Hall Hunger, Miami Valley Community Action Partnership, The Foodbank, Inc., Lindy’s Bakery at Daybreak Declare, East End Community Services, Life Enrichment Center, Montgomery County Food Equity Coalition and St. Vince de Paul Dayton.

Currently they distribute over 4,000 meals a week to their client organizations and figured it wouldn’t be an impossible task to make more for the holiday. They estimate giving out about 10,000 meals that week.

“We can change people lives with good nourishing food even though its just filling their belly that day for Thanksgiving. You always want to do that for holiday season, but you also want to do that on a day to day level,” said culinary director Matt DeAngulo.

The chefs are spending more time in the kitchen on weekends to prepare the meals. “It was a challenge at first because we’re going to make double of what we do,” said DeLotelle.

The Thanksgiving dinner giveaways will be held at Trotwood Madison High School and the University of Dayton Arena from 9 a.m. to noon in drive thru style. Each vehicle can get two trays and the meals are on a first come, first served basis.

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