ROCKLAND – Robert Krajewski and Lynette Mosher, chef-owners of the Lily Bistro in Rockland, closed their restaurant on Sunday, drove south to Portland and set up a grill on the city’s waterfront.

Krajewski and Mosher served 400 meals consisting of Port Clyde lobster, sweet peas and gnocchi — all donated at their own expense.

The out-of-pocket cost to the Lily Bistro amounted to $3,000, but for Krajewski and Mosher it was a small price to pay to help fight childhood hunger.

“It’s important to us,” Krajewski said, his voice shaking with emotion.

The Lily Bistro joined 26 other restaurants from across the state to participate in the fifth annual Share Our Strength’s Taste of the Nation event.

Nearly all the proceeds raised at the event, which was held under a tent on a deck next to the city’s Ocean Gateway terminal, will benefit organizations in Maine that serve children from poverty-stricken families.

Bill Shore, national founder of Share Our Strength, established the organization in 1984 on the belief that in the world’s wealthiest nation, no child should go hungry.

Despite the country’s wealth, nearly 17 million children in America struggle with hunger — and about one in four children in Maine, according to Share Our Strength.

Shore, who maintains a summer home in Kennebunk, spoke briefly before the event.

Admission cost $125. Guests sampled food and wine from a diverse mix of restaurants ranging from The Salt Exchange, Back Bay Grill and Buttercup Cupcakes in Portland to El Camino in Brunswick and Primo in Rockland.

Not everyone was serving food, though. Kristen Miale, director of Share Our Strength’s Operation Frontline, attended to introduce her program.

Beginning on Tuesday, Operation Frontline will begin teaching a six-week course on how to prepare healthy meals for low-income families. Hannaford is donating all the food, and many of the classes will be taught by professional chefs.

John Woods, who lives in Cape Elizabeth, organized Taste of the Nation.

Woods said his goal is to raise $100,000 — funds that will directly benefit the Preble Street Teen Center, the Good Shepherd Food Bank, East End Kids Katering and Cultivating Community.

Woods said this year’s event featured more chefs and restaurants than before.

Among the chefs who donated their time and food was Sam Hayward, chef-owner of Fore Street in Portland.

Hayward was serving bite-sized samples of summer flounder covered in butter sauce, carrot and garlic scape.

“This is about partnering with the community in a way that will have a positive effect,” Hayward said.

Rob Evans, chef-owner of Hugo’s and Duckfat in Portland, was asked why he participates.

“Why wouldn’t you do it is the bigger question,” Evans said. “When it comes to ignoring hungry kids, it would be a sin.”

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

dhoey@pressherald.com