DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Resilience: noun – the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties, toughness.
Amanda DeLotelle defined that in 2020. After losing her job at the Schuster Center’s Citilites in the final days of 2019, she lost another one when COVID hit. It was a gut-punch to the budget that brings people to their knees, but for DeLotelle, it was the recipe for a remarkable comeback.
She, along with Chef Matt DeAngelo, whipped up a bold plan to tackle a pandemic-crippled economy putting out-of-work chefs and their teams to work by feeding their city.
DeLotelle says DeAngelo came to her with the idea. “Chef Matt DeAngelo came to me saying, ‘The pandemic is coming. It’s going to get really bad for everyone, but it’s going to get bad for hospitality, our friends in the business. It’s also going to affect so many people that were already struggling to find a meal. We’ve got to do something.'”
With that, Miami Valley Meals was born, preparing bulk hotel-style meals for large amounts of people before shifting to individual meals, and we’re not talking about your generic frozen dinners.
“We’ve got spicy bbq chicken, a Salsbury steak,” says DeLotelle. “Last week they made a beautiful vegetarian tica marsala. They transform so many ingredients into hearty, filling food.”
DeLotelle believes in the power of food, that ingredients can spark someone’s day. It’s a big spark, 4,500 meals every week. It’s a lifeline to thousands who otherwise would go hungry.
Dr. Jeanette Robinson, Chief Executive Director of the American Fitness Health and Wellness Institute, says Miami Valley Meals is providing a critical service. “We have people right now who don’t have jobs,” Robinson says. “We have people that don’t have electricity. That’s what Miami Valley Meals is all about, serving the community.”
Robinson is one of many clients delivering food to people throughout the Miami Valley who desperately need it. She is part of what DeLotelle calls a “Remarkable team”.
“These people that have chosen to be on my team are just really special people with tremendous heart and without hesitation, they stepped into this role to help others in their city.” DeLotelle adds, “I’m so proud of everything they do.”
The feeling is mutual yet DeLotelle quickly deflects praise to her team and their mission.
“We’re here every day for one mission, and that’s to help serve meals with dignity to people that are having a hard time.”
Since launching, Miami Valley Meals has prepared the food at Lindy’s Bakery at Daybreak. DeLotelle says she expect their own in-house kitchen to go online in early-to-mid April, making at least an additional 500 meals every week.