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In mid-April, more than 100 guests at acclaimed Salem restaurant Ledger nibbled on harissa carrots with mint and walnut, chili-lime skirt steak, mini tres leches cakes, and more, as part of sold-out fundraiser From Shelf to Table, in which chef Daniel Gursha used ingredients commonly available at the Salem Food Pantry to create a memorable gourmet meal for guests.

The event raised more than $70,000 to support the pantry’s programming including a bricks-and-mortar location, a mobile market, and home delivery service.

“It’s been amazing to have so many people from the community invest in making a difference around food insecurity,” says organization executive director Robyn Burns. “The work is far from over, and we cannot do it alone.”

The menu was created following a visit by Gursha and Ledger owner Matt O’Neal to The Market, the pantry’s physical location. The pair browsed the shelves, getting a feel for what was on offer – including shelf-stable staples, dairy products, proteins, and fresh produce – and thinking about how to transform it into an event-worthy meal. The resulting menu included, among other offerings, mini Froot Loop ice cream scoops, maple-glazed pork belly bites, and spring onion tart.

The goal was to highlight the bounty of the food pantry and demonstrate the possibilities it offers, says pantry communications manager Kia Fernandes. “It’s all about our belief in destigmatizing the food pantry experience,” she says.

State Rep. Manny Cruz

State Rep. Manny Cruz offered a keynote address, noting the enormous challenge food insecurity poses around the country.

The event was the first major fundraiser for the Salem Food Pantry, which grew significantly during and since the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2023, the organization served 6,510 households – including one in six of the households in Salem and residents of surrounding towns. Visits to the pantry site more than doubled from 2022.

The event was sponsored by JJ Welch Construction, Institution for Savings, Brookline Bank, Merry Fox Realty, Mass General Brigham Salem Hospital, Salem Harbor Station, Marblehead Bank, The Salem Inn, Crowley, Spire, Tinti & Navins, PC, Salem State University, and Groom Construction.

For more information about the Salem Food Pantry or to donate, visit