STAFFORD —  The Twenty Third Annual Hunger Relief Dinner "When in Rome" was held on April 25 at The Mainland at Holiday Inn in Manahawkin.   Guests who attended the event were immediately transported to the streets of Rome and enjoyed a magical Italian experience.   ​

The evening opened with the Italian Marketplace that included live music and Italian street performers! Guests had the opportunity to enjoy handmade pastas, olive oils, Italian cheeses, Tuscan flat breads and many various flavors of the Mediterranean.

The next part of the evening guests moved to their seats and enjoyed a five course meal.  

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  • The first course consisted of Arancini Duet: Wild Mushroom and Sweet Pea Pancett by Chef Daniel Stragapede of La Spiaggia in Ship Bottom. 
  • The second course was Blood Orange and Felle Salad-Radicchio, Pistashio, with Roasted Fennel Vinaigrette by Chef Kyle Baddorf from Parker's Garage in Beach Haven.
  • The third course consisted of Braised Veal Torellacci, Rosted Tomato Demi Glaze, Mascarpone Cream Sourse by Chef Michael Liquori from the Mainland at the Holiday Inn in Manahawkin.
  • The fourth course was Pan Seared Bronzino, Spring Edibles, edamame Chick Pea Puree, Blueberry Merlot Reduction by Chef J. Geoffrey Johnson of Octopuses Garden in Cedar Run.
  • The fifth course was Roasted Pork Loin, Creamy Polenta, Tomato, Pesto, Asparagus and Fig Vinaigrette by Chef Jeff Alberti from the Plantation in Harvey Cedars.

The love and generosity of all gathered in the ballroom was obvious to all in attendance.  Chef Ian Smith shared his heart for hurting people in the Southern Ocean area. He challenged those in attendance to elevate their compassion for all people in Southern Ocean County. Chef Ian expressed his appreciation to all in attendance for their love, commitment and sacrifice for others.  

The food service concluded with a Dessert Station, Viennese Table and Coffee which included Tiramusu, Mini Cannoli, Pignoli Cookies and Gelato.

The dessert station was presented by Chef Gary Lesniak and Chef Jill Scott from the Ocean County Vocational School.  

Throughout the evening, guests entered into live and silent auctions in the effort to raise additional funds to create a Southern Ocean County community where all of our neighbors are free from hunger.

The Hunger Foundation of Southern Ocean is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit, volunteer-only organization which hosts charitable events to raise awareness about, and funds for, local food pantries as they help thousands of families each year in the Southern Ocean County area. 

Since 1995, the Foundation has raised more than $1,250,000, which has been donated to local food pantries to assist our neighbors in need.

The 2018 When in Rome event set a record for the Southern Ocean County Hunger Foundation fundraising efforts. The evening raised $100,000 dollars for the area food pantries. 

Dan Taylor, President of the Southern Ocean County Hunger Foundation commented: 

"A fantastic night for those in attendance and a good night for our local pantries.  
A special thanks to the Reynolds family, they did a wonderful job making the room look great.  
And a big thank you to Ian and the chefs, plus to those that helped make the night such a success.   
I have been told it is safe to say that the event will net $100,000, a record for the dinner! All expenses were covered by our partnerships, so the money from the attendees will go straight to the pantries. 

We have next year’s theme set — “When At The Derby” tentatively set for 5/1/2019.    Our next event is the Bourbon Tasting at Old Causeway on Nov 14. Seating is limited. You can reserve your spot on"

All of the money raised through the Foundation’s fundraising efforts are distributed equally to the following local food pantries in Southern Ocean County:

  • Ken’s Kitchen at St. Mary’s Parish
  • Greater Tuckerton Food Pantry
  • Barnegat Food Pantry
  • St. Francis Center Food Pantry in Brant Beach
  • Ocean Community Church Food Ministry in Manahawkin
  • St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church Food Pantry in Waretown
  • Lacey Food Bank Program

​​​​​​This Southern Ocean County Hunger Foundation is under the leadership of their board of trustees. 

Board of Trustees
Dan Taylor, President
Chris Schwab, Vice President
Pamela Zeleznok, Secretary
Ellen Dondero Meyer, Treasurer
Ian Smth, Taste Dinner Chair
Rebecca Gee
Gary Henderson
Melanie Magaziner
Don Myers
Skye Gibson
Dorothy Lassik
Timothy McWilliams
Peg Reynolds