It was just a casual post on Facebook designed to pass along a positive message. But that mention by Wright State University alumnus William Foster ignited a campaign that has resulted in thousands of free prepared meals being delivered to people affected by the coronavirus.
The 2017 sports science graduate founded and runs Picnk, a small meal delivery startup that offers over 50 different individual ready-to-eat meals on a weekly basis.
Foster began delivering donated meals to those affected by the coronavirus pandemic after a friend donated $50 to have him do just that. That’s when Foster mentioned it in a post on his personal Facebook page.
“It blew up and we raised enough money for close to 1,100 meals in six hours,” he said. “To date we have raised funds for over 2,000 meals, and people are continuing to help us donate meals.”
On May 20, Foster and his team prepared meals and took them to Wright State for international students. The previous week they partnered with Maple Tree Cancer Alliance to deliver meals to 233 health care workers at four hospitals in the Kettering Health Network.
“I’m fortunate I am able to give back and will continue to do so wherever there is a need,” said Foster. “It has also been incredible to see the number of people rally behind us to help the community.”
He said the pandemic has given him a lesson in adaptability from a personal and business standpoint.
“This has taught me how to pivot even more and dig deeper than I thought I could, just to continue to survive as a business,” he said.
Foster grew up in the western Ohio village of Quincy. At age 9, he became an avid runner and developed a passion for fitness and health. He earned a bachelor’s degree in sports science in 2017 from Wright State.
His mother, Brandy Foster, attended Wright State when William was growing up and he would sometimes tag along. Brandy Foster is executive director of The ONEIL Center at Wright State University.
“I basically grew up at Wright State and grew to love the campus atmosphere and the Dayton area,” he said.
During his sophomore year at Wright State, Foster started Foster Athletics, a personal training business. He has since conducted more than 16,000 training sessions out of the company’s Kettering facility and continues to run the business full time.
The seeds of Picnk were planted in 2017 when Foster and a roommate with whom he lived off-campus started doing in-home personal chef work. Many of Foster’s personal training clients had been asking about meal prep services so Foster decided to start his own.
The following year Foster and his roommate moved their operation into a shared kitchen rental space called Divine Catering, and Picnk was born. In January 2019, Picnk moved into the Five Seasons Family Sports Club, where it continues to operate.
The company, which has four employees, offers a wide range of meals, including vegetarian and vegan options. The meals come ready to eat in compostable containers and are designed to last the week. The meals can be ordered online by Saturday at 8 p.m. for a Monday or Tuesday delivery.
Foster estimates he works nearly 100 hours a week at his personal training and meal prep businesses. At Picnk, he does event planning, menu development, marketing, meal prep and delivery.
Foster said the support and encouragement he received at Wright State prepared him to be successful. Especially helpful, he said, were Karen Wonders, director of the Wright State Sports Science Program and founder of the Maple Tree Cancer Alliance, and Siobhan Fagan, senior lecturer in the Department of Kinesiology and Health.
“They were a huge positive influence and provided me with an incredible educational experience that has been massively beneficial in my career,” he said.