[EDITOR'S NOTE — Each week, this feature section, “Movers and Makers,” will feature the stories of the movers, launchers, entrepreneurs and makers who contribute to the vitality of the Mahoning Valley. This section is supported by our first community partner, Farmers National Bank.]
CANFIELD — Don Ritenour, owner of YoFresh, aims to provide fresh, quality food to the Mahoning Valley through a meal subscription and delivery service emphasizing an “eat good, feel good, do good” mission through community outreach and collaboration.
YoFresh, 584 E Main St., Suite 44, provides a rotating menu every five weeks as well as a “choose your own” option. Additionally, YoFresh occasionally offers private dining experiences and cooking demonstrations for 12 or fewer people at a time.
Popular menu items include jerk chicken, turkey marsala meatloaf, cheesy cauliflower and roasted brussels sprouts.
Ritenour’s path to success was paved with adversity, beginning with the loss of his mother through a doctor-prescribed overdose seven years ago.
“The person you see today … the person that Youngstown is seeing as Chef Don wasn't always that way,” he said.
Ritenour said substance abuse ran in his family and “trading pills” with family members was deemed normal.
“I lost my mom and about a year later, I was still on my own path of addiction. But it wasn't what everybody thought it would look like because I had the blue-collar addiction. I was able to pay my bills … you know, I had a house, I paid my rent, I had a nice car, I went to work every day,” he said.
Ritenour went through a year-long rehabilitation program for his addiction, which led him to the realization that he was “obsessed” with the wrong things. He needed a change of environment.
While eating at LiB’s in Salem, Ritenour met owner Ben Ratner. The two eventually entered into a partnership in 2017. Ritenour worked as a chef for the restaurant as well as helped with various pop-up events and local collaborations.
During his time at LiB’s, Ritenour began meal prepping gluten-free meals for Facebook friends out of a small community center in Salem.
“I’d get off at LiB's at 11 [a.m.] on Sunday, going shopping locally, getting all the meats and vegetables I needed, putting them together, and delivering them on Sunday,” he said. “It was all in one day.”
In 2018, Ritenour left LiB’s to pursue his own dream to start YoFresh full time alongside his wife, Caroline.
Since YoFresh opened its Canfield location in 2020, it has taken part in various local collaborations, like Alta Head Start. Ritenour said YoFresh will have a kitchen within the Mahoning Valley Campus of Care in the upcoming months.
“We partner with Alta Head Start now. We're feeding about 400 kids a day breakfast, lunch and snacks right here in the Valley. Eleven to 12 different daycare locations throughout the Valley right here. So that's really been able to let us kind of breathe and it's really stabilized our income base,” Ritenour said.
YoFresh also partners with Second Harvest Food Bank and has donated 36,000 meals by monetary through their “buy 10 [meals], give 12” program as well as the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley on every other Satur-Day of Caring event to provide giveaways and food.
Another partnership of YoFresh is with Inspiring Minds on various projects, including upcoming cooking classes with 9th- through 12th-grade students and a culinary tasting challenge that will feature Ritenour as a guest judge alongside Trina Williams of A Fresh Wind Catering and Tiffany Harden of Fresh to Deaf.
Another new venture for Ritenour is his recent collaboration with Youngstown Studios on a podcast titled “Chopping It Up With Chef Don” which will feature Ritenour as host with local guests for interviews, as well as segments like “Fresh Cuts” cooking tips and demonstrations, “Fresh Reads” talking about relevant reading material and “Fresh Facts” on nutrition and fitness with Laura Zavadil of Mega Barre Youngstown.
In the future, Ritenour hopes to continue to help nonprofits and start implementing “fresh hubs” or kitchens shared among organizations to help various nonprofits with their food and nutrition needs at one time.
“Every nonprofit, they're very passionate about what they do. They're understaffed, they're under-budgeted, and ... they're very big-hearted. They do the best they can,” he said.