Jeff Perkins – Owner / CEO at Portland Pie Co.
Here’s How Portland Pie is Feeding Maine Kids.
When Jeff Perkins made the transition from CEO to owner/CEO at Portland Pie Co. late last year, one of his top priorities was to ask, “who do we want to be from a philanthropic standpoint?” Portland Pie Co. has always been a generous donor to the communities they serve, and Perkins’ enthusiasm and commitment to helping solve the food insecurity problem in Maine was a big determining factor moving forward. As Perkins convened his executive staff to discuss the topic the answer was clear “This exercise was a big piece for us,” says Perkins. “At Portland Pie Co. we understand our role in our community. Simply, we see ourselves in the business of feeding people.” The group decided it was time to choose a focus, and the problem of food insecurity, especially for children, came to the forefront. “We understand we are very fortunate to have loyal fans of our pizza who have the ability to frequent our locations but we also recognize there are people who are less fortunate and are food insecure every day,” Perkins tells me. “Both groups of these people are very important to us.”
Figuring out where they wanted to go with this commitment was the next step. Perkins invited Leslie Oster, Events and Fundraising Coordinator for Full Plates Full Potential to visit with the group. “Leslie spoke to us about all the options, and the Feed Kids program really struck a chord with us,” says Perkins. “We liked the way it could really make a difference for a particular location.” Through Feed Kids, Portland Pie Co. could designate a menu item to help raise funds. Each time that item is sold, one dollar is donated to Feed Kids.
Portland Pie Co. looked to their seasonal menu for an item to feature. Every season they offer a specialty pizza, and customers hungrily anticipate the new menu addition. Summer brings the Red Claws pie, with a creamy base of spinach and artichokes topped with fresh Maine lobster and finished with artisan cheese and scallions. “People wait all year for this one to came back,” Perkins says. A Mexican Street Corn pizza also makes an appearance in the summer, loaded with seasoned corn, red bell pepper, and red onion on a base of cilantro lime aioli. Both pizzas are clearly marked on the menu as Feed Kids items, along with an explanation of the program. Servers are trained to talk about the restaurant’s participation as well.
The Feed Kids program really struck a chord with us. We liked the way it could really make a difference for a particular location. We feel strongly about supporting organizations that focus on helping those with food insecuritiesJeff Perkins
As funds accumulate from each seasonal pizza sold, the restaurant can select a Fund Local project and invest the money where they feel it will do the most good. It’s easy to go to the Full Plates Full Potential website where the projects are all listed. With seven locations, Portland Pie Co. could pinpoint a project that would support people in one of their own communities. “We feel strongly about supporting organizations that focus on helping those with food insecurities whether it is teaching them how to grow food, providing options for meals at school, or helping out local food banks,” says Perkins.