A hot meal for Dayton
In a warehouse just off Edwin C. Moses Boulevard painted almost as brightly as his passion shines, Bill Evans ’67 works daily to feed his community. A Daytonian born and raised, Evans has worked constantly to help feed the hungry. His newest initiative: Miami Valley Meals.
Originating from a previous nonprofit Evans ran, Set the Banquet Table, Miami Valley Meals developed out of the conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
When many chefs were furloughed because of the pandemic, Evans and partner chef Matt DeAngulo brought several chefs together to prepare meals from food donations and other recovered food.
“I was just looking to continue raising money and raising awareness about hunger-related organizations, and that was the beginning of this little charity … that evolved into Miami Valley Meals,” Evans said.
Miami Valley Meals has distributed more than 233,000 packaged meals that are prepared daily by trained chefs to more than 60 partners who then distribute the meals to people in need throughout the greater Dayton area.
Evans attributes his time working with The House of Bread, another local nonprofit that provides hot meals every day of the year, as the initial experience that sparked his interest in feeding the hungry.
Evans owned a bakery from 1969 to 2004, but as he began working with several nonprofit organizations, he said he became more aware of issues that plague Dayton, such as "food deserts," where people have limited access to a variety of healthful foods.
“Until that time, I think it’s fair to say that, honestly, I didn’t even think about food deserts,” Evans recalled. “We still have food deserts and it’s complicated — it’s really complicated.”
In 2019, nearly 20% of Dayton was considered food insecure, according to Feeding America, Evans said feeding hungry people has always been important to him, regardless of Dayton’s struggles with food deserts and other issues.
“[I am] absolutely proud of what this organization is and will become, and it’s still evolving,” Evans said. “I think … this might be the heart — the very heart — of what Miami Valley Meals means to me.”
When asked about what makes Miami Valley Meals distinctive, Evans said, “This model is unique to Dayton in who we are and how we partner. There are variations of this all over the country, but this is Dayton, and we’re doing it the Dayton way.”
“There are variations of this all over the country, but this is Dayton and we’re doing it the Dayton way.”
Evans said while he made his living baking for the people of Dayton, he is now completely dedicated to giving back to the community that supported him for more than 30 years.
“I’m not a stranger. … When you see me, we know each other. I used to be in your class, or I used to coach your soccer team, or I go to the same church,” he said. “That’s what makes me and should make everybody who is involved in Miami Valley Meals proud — because it’s personal.”
Photos by Mary Kate Fleisher ’23.