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Bruno’s of Brooklyn’s Plate It Up Chef Challenge premiere party raises $18,000 for Community Cooperative

A fundraiser on April 4 at Bruno’s of Brooklyn raised $18,000 for Community Cooperative. The ticketed dinner featured a live auction and the premiere of chef-owner Cal Bruno’s Plate It Up Challenge.

For the video series, Community Cooperative challenged chef-owner Cal Bruno to create a dish in 30 minutes using surprise ingredients donated to the Community Cooperative pantry. The judges were City of Fort Myers Fire Chief Tracy McMillion, Lee County Tax Collector and Community Cooperative board member Noelle Branning and Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre General Manager Melissa Vogt.

Bruno’s ingredients were boxed macaroni and cheese, frozen shrimp, mincemeat and fresh carrots. He created shrimp macaroni and cheese with carrot and roasted garlic cream sauce with mincemeat, prosciutto rosemary and roasted almond crostini. The video is available for viewing at Community Cooperative’s YouTube channel. Chef Harold Balink of Harold’s Restaurant has also participated in the challenge, and more are planned.

“We are advocates of giving back,” said Bruno. “We came from the bottom and worked our way up, so I know what it feels like to be down on your luck. It’s important to understand that sometimes people don’t have what you have, and you have to think about those people. When Community Cooperative asked us to do this, we jumped at the chance.”

The goal of the series is to raise awareness about the challenges the Community Cooperative team faces in feeding the hungry in Southwest Florida.

“When our cooks at Community Cooperative receive donations of fresh or canned ingredients, they must get creative to prepare meals for our soup kitchen or Meals On Wheels program,” said Stefanie Edwards, CEO of Community Cooperative. “It requires quick thinking and ingenuity in the kitchen to make the best use of ingredients so Community Cooperative can feed our hungry clients.”

For information about Community Cooperative’s programs or volunteering or donating visit  CommunityCooperative.com.

About Community Cooperative

For 37 years, Community Cooperative has worked to effectively eliminate hunger and homelessness in Lee County while simultaneously inspiring and supporting sustained positive change in its clients by delivering innovative food, education and social service programs. With a dedicated team of volunteers, board of directors and staff, Community Cooperative stays committed to its core responsibility to collect and distribute resources through a strong and viable network of community partners. Community Cooperative is an exemplary steward of the resources entrusted to it and serves clients with compassion and integrity. Through collaboration and ongoing education, Community Cooperative supports and strengthens those whose lives have been affected by hunger and homelessness, ensuring that they have access to the resources necessary to transform their lives with dignity. For more resources and information on how to get involved, contact Tami Holliday at Tami@communitycooperative.com or call (239) 332-7687. Monetary donations are always welcomed and can be made directly at www.CommunityCooperative.com, or mailed to: Community Cooperative, P.O. Box 2143, Fort Myers, FL 33902.

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