Good Shepherd Food Bank 2017 JoAnn Pike Humanitarian Award Dinner

There could be no better place than the Good Shepard Food Bank’s own warehouse in Auburn to hold this very special event. Planners dressed up the industrial space, turning it into a fun venue with elegant touches. Two wide aisles lined with towering shelves were used for the cocktail hour. Tables were fashioned from stacks of canned goods, topped with floral arrangements of orange tulips and roses, the vases cleverly lined with carrots. Courtney Kennedy, who runs the Cooking Matters program for the organization, gave me a tour of the facility, which has three new cold storage units that allows the food bank to stock more fresh produce. Just outside the door in the heavy rain stood Josh Hopkins and Matthew Jauck from Earth at Hidden Pond. They set up an awning and were smoking short ribs over a wood fire to be served a little later at dinner, along with nori butter mashed potatoes. Despite the weather, they were cheerful and excited to be participating in the event with Earth at Hidden Pond chef Justin Walker and his wife, Danielle. The Walkers support No Kid Hungry and Cooking Matters, and this was their first year participating in the dinner. In another cold storage unit, the Cumberland Club of Portland had set up an ice bar, with bartender Seth Fogg serving up a delicious Aperol cocktail from an ice luge. Appetizers included fried cauliflower with herbed labneh from chef Bo Byrne of Tiqa and a beautiful cheese and charcuterie spread from the Frog and Turtle in Westbrook.

The Good Shepard Food Bank’s Cooking Matters program provides hands-on cooking and nutrition classes to low-income people at risk of hunger. Many Maine chefs lend their expertise to the classes, which emphasize healthy cooking and eating on a budget. Chef David Turin has been a regular volunteer, and tonight he’s cooking cider-braised pork shoulder with ricotta polenta, pickled cabbage slaw, and crispy cumin onions for guests. Turin is a natural teacher and a mentor to many young cooks, so it comes as no surprise that he’s a part of Cooking Matters. “I showed the class how to debone a chicken, then use every part of it for several meals. They learned how to make chicken soup from the bones,” he says. He gestured to the warehouse, saying, “You’d think this would be enough to feed the hungry, but the food in this warehouse turns over about once a month. Unfortunately, their mission is growing.” He and several other chefs prepped their dishes for dinner. Nearby, W. Scott and Bridget Lee of Bandaloop in Kennebunkport readied plates of mushroom ceviche with tamari caramel wrapped in cucumber slices, a beautiful presentation and highly flavorful dish. Paul Landry of Fish Bones American Grill in Lewiston worked on seared sesame-crusted ahi tuna with jasmine rice and stir-fried vegetables. It’s not just restaurant chefs who are cooking tonight. Samantha Cowens-Gasbarro, district chef for Windham-Raymond schools, dishied up carnitas with chipotle slaw. She tells me about her mission to have 100 percent scratch cooking in the schools within the next few years. “We also have two school gardens that provide vegetables for our salad bars, and we run an after-school cooking club,” she says. After a kale salad provided by b.good, guests were invited to visit each chef’s station for a plate of their specialty.

Kristen Miale, president of Good Shepherd Food Bank, welcomed the guests as they enjoyed dinner. The recipient of the 2017 Joann Pike Humanitarian Award was Hannaford, who has been committed to helping Good Shepherd Food Bank from the start, over 30 years ago. Just in the past year, Hannaford donated 23 million pounds of food to hunger relief. “The food bank would not be here without Hannaford,” says Miale. The supermarket donates all the food used in Cooking Matters classes, too, including a bag of groceries for participants to take home.

The immense size of the warehouse, as large as a football field, underscored the amount of food it takes to help feed over 200,000 Mainers in need. Good Shepard Food Bank is Maine’s only statewide food bank, distributing food to pantries and service agencies all over the state. “There isn’t a single community in Maine unaffected by hunger,” says Miale. The irony of our good fortune to enjoy an evening of such wonderful food in this setting was lost on no one.

Good Shepard Food Bank | 207.782.3554 |