Local mother, food entrepreneur launches No Child Hungry Dayton

In every school district, there are students who share an unwanted connection – hunger. For many of these children, the lunch they are served in the cafeteria is their only meal of the day, so when access to that goes away, that poses an even greater problem.

Aimee Thomes Plesa knows first-hand the struggles of putting food on the table for her family. As a single mother, she humbly talks about times when food pantries and generous assistance from kind souls prevented her and her twin daughters from the anguish of not having enough to eat. That is why the flourishing entrepreneur who operates Thyme After Thyme, a home-based bakery and candy business; and also serves as the kitchen manager at Bargo’s in Centerville launched No Child Hungry, a fledgling charity that provides free sack lunches for children. The new organization was born when local schools unexpectedly closed earlier this spring.

“When I heard that, my heart sank for those parents who struggle to make ends meet from week to week,” Aimee said. “I wanted to step up and do something, anything, to help and I realized my talents were best suited for creating a bagged lunch program.

“It is an awful feeling when you have no choice but to rely on food assistance, food pantries, and the school lunch program to stretch those precious few grocery dollars. I know. I’ve been there,” Aimee added. “What I hope No Child Hungry does is not only give lunch to children who would otherwise go without, but also provide parents with dignity knowing that they are not alone, and that we care about them.”

Aimee posted about her idea on Facebook, letting readers know she was accepting donations of lunch-appropriate items, and that she would assemble and distribute brown bag lunches for anyone who needed additional help feeding their children through the difficult time. No Child Hungry, Dayton Ohio is the organization’s official name. Restaurants like Bargo’s, Bagger Dave’s, and Mr. Boro’s Tavern responded with donations. Aimee has reached into her pocket to fund the initiative. Mackenzie Manley of Mack’s Tavern donated free use of her restaurant’s patio for Aimee to pass out the sack lunches.

A growing Facebook audience has helped fuel attention for No Child Hungry. It is an extension of a passion for Aimee, whose first job was at the K&W in Springboro when she was 14. She earned a management position at Hot Sam’s in the Dayton Mall at 15, and she has worked in restaurants since.

Even when all is normal, summer is a difficult time for families in need. Children are unable to get that daily lunch in the school cafeteria, so Aimee plans to expand No Child Hungry through the summer, and also implement a program even when schools re-open. Her goal is to secure more donations from businesses and individuals, and also apply for 501 (c) (3) status as a licensed nonprofit organization.

Another of Aimee’s endeavors, Cupcake It Forward, helps fund supplies to make the sack lunches. The premise of Cupcake It Forward is simple. You purchase a dozen of Aimee’s homemade cupcakes for the purpose of donating them. Aimee selects a family in need and delivers the cupcakes. Proceeds from Cupcake It Forward directly go to No Child Hungry.

“Who doesn’t like cupcakes,” Aimee said with a grin. “With Cupcake It Forward, you can buy a dozen for yourself, and then buy a dozen to have donated to a family in need so everyone can enjoy the treats.”

For more information about No Child Hungry, access its Facebook page through www.cupcakeitforward.com.