June 22, 2010. Children eat lunch at the Moraine Civic Center as they participate in the Summer Food Service Program.
Photo: Ron Alvey/Ron Alvey
Photo: Ron Alvey/Ron Alvey

Dayton chef launches effort to feed kids impacted by coronavirus: ‘We have to band together’

“Lord mercy,” cake maker says. “If I can buy some bread and help. I will help.”

Shannon Teague knows what it is like to be the kid who depends on the free school lunch. 

Aimee Plesa knows what it is like to be a single mom with hungry mouths to feed. 

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Teague, the owner of Cake, Hope and Love, 1490 N.Fairfield Road in Beavercreek, and Plesa, a chef and kitchen manager at Bargo’s Grill and Tap in Centerville, have launched separate efforts help parents feed their children in light of the announcement that schools will be closed three weeks starting Monday as part of the governor’s attempt to slow the spread of the potentially deadly coronavirus. 

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At 5:30 a.m. this morning, Teague came up with the idea to, along with her staff, make bag lunches for kids. She was inspired by a post by a friend who teaches at Mad River Local School District. That teacher worried her students won’t eat. 

Archive photo (5/20/14): Family Services of Middletown's discontinued the Carel Cosby Summer Food for Kids.
Photo: GARY STELZER/MIDDLETOWN JOURNAL

Teague placed a post on Facebook that she would be making lunches.

Before 10:30 a.m., Teague and her team already had 25 orders for school lunches and tons of support from the community.

They kept coming in.

Cake, Hope and Love was among the many small businesses that helped those in need following the 15 Memorial Day tornadoes that hit the Dayton area, claiming one life and destroying or damaging thousands of houses and other buildings. 

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“I though the tornado lunches took off, but holy hell,” Teague said. “This has taken off. It effects everyone equally.” 

Teague grew up in a military family spending her elementary school years in Mississippi and Belgium. 

She said her parents did the very best they could, but finances were tight and there was not always enough to go around without help. 

“I was the free lunch kid at school,” the married mother of two teenage boys said.

Meals were a big struggle when there was no school during natural disasters. 

“Lord mercy,” she said. “If I can buy some bread and help. I will help.” 

Those wishing to help or receive help are asked to contact Cake Hope and Love through its Facebook page on Messenger.

The business has limited walk-in hours. The business’ 

Venmo account is @CakeNation.

The meals will be mainly for pickup, but Teague said some people have already agreed to deliver meals.  

Plesa posted a challenge to help on her Facebook page Thursday night after learning that schools will be closed. 

Her son is a teenager now and has access to plenty of food, but Plesa says she fully understand how disruptive the sudden announcement must be for many families. 

“A lot of these parents don’t have any kind of back-up plan,” she said. “School breakfast, school lunch is their kids main meal.”

The National Center for Children in Poverty estimates that 15 million American children live below the federal poverty threshold.

In Montgomery County alone, 93,210 people struggle with food insecurity, according to the Food Bank. About 26,350 of those people are children. 

Plesa’s campaign is in its early stages, but she plans to work with local schools and make box lunches.

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“I am reaching out to friends, family members,  coworkers and chefs like myself,” she said.  “We will be putting together box lunches for kids who are affected.”  

Those interested in helping, should contact Plesa via email at aimeeplesa @gmail.com. 

“As a single parent myself,  I have to do something,” she said. “We all have to band together right now. It is just insane.”

Other area eateries food industry workers  and restaurants have started to help as well. 

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