On Thursday March 22, Livingston County CARES held its semiannual Gumbo to Go dinner to raise funds for humanitarian work in various locations, including Livingston County, Haiti, Nicaragua and Mississippi. In the basement kitchen of the Central Presbyterian Church on Center Street, volunteers quickly filled gumbo orders for hungry attendees.
“Livingston County CARES came out of Hurricane Katrina,” said President of Livingston CARES and Dean of Leadership and Services Tom Matthews. “We realized that they needed help, and they still do.”
“This dinner is part of a larger culture of charitable dinners that happen here on campus that actually started when I was an undergraduate student,” said adjunct English professor and head gumbo chef Glenn McClure.
“The first of these dinners, called the Marco Polo dinner that [history] professor Bill Cook started, grew this culture of people who love to cook to raise money for people who need it,” said McClure.
“One of the perhaps interesting things is that when the Marco Polo dinner started, I was the student who was buying the dinner,” said McClure. “And now we’ve sort of turned the generation around. There’s no reason to believe that this is not going to keep going for generations to come with young cooks coming up and being part of this.”
This Gumbo to Go dinner is the sixth in three years. “We do it twice a year, one in the fall and one in the spring,” said Matthews. “Glenn loves to cook and we have a lot of volunteers who help out. Wegmans even contributes to this.”
“[It’s] a lot of people who live in town who happen to like gumbo, and over time a lot of the same people come back because they enjoy it,” Matthews said. “It’s a treat.”