Aug. 5—Eva Wells can make anything in a crock pot.
Affectionately known as "The Crock Pot Lady," Wells teaches crock pot cooking to people living in food deserts and under financial constraints. Her classes have brought three-course crock pot recipes to senior living centers, subsidized housing, churches and community centers.
Through her job at Deloitte Dayton, Wells began volunteering with Homefull, a Dayton-based nonprofit working to end homelessness. While there, she would overhear people talking about how exhausting cooking dinner was after a long day at work.
"I'm thinking, 'Well, why don't they just make a one pot meal?'" Wells said. "I was raised on a farm, so my grandmother always had a soup or something because our day started at 4:30 in the morning."
Before moving to Trotwood, Wells grew up on her grandmother's farm in Kokomo, Indiana where she learned how to grow her own food and cook. She was raised in a small community that would barter and trade goods from one farm to another. Her and her cousins would help out on the farm milking cows, doing chores and helping grandma cook.
After working for Deloitte Dayton for 43 years, Wells retired in 2019 and was able to start up her crock pot cooking classes.
"For me to be able to retire and do something I love- oh, wow. I just enjoy what I do," Wells said.
She taught newly-housed individuals how to create healthy meals while following a budget. She said she learned the value of a healthy meal after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013. Wells alerted her diet to cut out sugars and processed foods.
Her classes break down the whole process from using and cleaning the appliance to cooking and storing food made in the crock pot. Through donations, Wells is able to giveaway crock pots at each of her classes.
Through Homefull's Mobile Grocery initiative that was launched in 2020, Wells has shared her recipes with even more community members. She joins the Homefull crew on their mobile grocery drops, and gives food demonstrations at the one dozen different locations.
Homefull's chief strategic officer, Trudy Elder, nominated Wells as a Dayton Daily News Community Gem for her years of dedication to the most vulnerable in the community.
"According to her, there's nothing she can't cook in a crock pot," Elder said. "It could be a full Thanksgiving meal. It could be a morning breakfast. It doesn't matter. She can cook it in a crock pot."
By assisting in some of the crock pot classes, Elder said she gets to observe how committed and engaged Wells is with the community she have lived, worked and served in for 50 years.