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Lakes Area Food Shelf: Hunger Free & Healthy Campaign

Web posted January 31, 2023
Lakes Area Food Shelf (LAFS) announced today a major fundraising campaign to build a Community Resources Hub. Creating the Hub will address the growing need for social services in northern Crow Wing County. The fundraising campaign is called “Hunger Free & Healthy.” Money raised will be used to expand the current food shelf building on the campus of Grace United Methodist Church in Pequot Lakes, MN. Development of the project will come at significant cost.

“LAFS is an essential resource to the communities we serve, and our core program will remain operating as a food shelf,” explained LAFS Director Kathy Adams. “We are trusted. So, individuals and families are comfortable sharing information. Our bond makes us uniquely positioned to identify resources and help them overcome the barriers they face.”

Financing the Hunger Free & Healthy initiative will require extensive fundraising by LAFS, which has already secured grants from two significant partners. The Blandin Foundation has approved a $90,000 Leadership Boost Grant. The Hunt Family Fund has pledged $75,000 as a match grant. LAFS will designate money from its Reserve Funds as well. The timeline for the project is still being developed with a goal of breaking ground in 2023.

What Is A Community Resource Hub?
The practice of food shelf as “community resource hub” is gaining traction nationwide. Advocacy is now defined as delivering healthy, nutrient rich food, and attempting to mitigate the underlying challenges that lead people to visit a food shelf. Community Resource Hubs, integrated within the food shelf, house a network of existing direct service providers from multiple disciplines (legal, housing, counseling, job training, etc.). The partnership creates navigators who provide help beyond food, all the while protecting individual privacy and advocating without judgement. LAFS is actively seeking partners to staff the hub.

“Lack of food is often an outcome of many pressures facing individuals and families. We see these situations daily,” said LAFS Board President Tim Moore. “As we offer meals, we have an opportunity to help people work through the challenges of paying rent or getting healthcare or finding a way to fill their gas tank.”

What’s The Overall Goal of Hunger Free & Healthy?

Serve people in a time of need, help them become hunger free and attain a healthy life, so they in turn can help others.

The decision to build a Community Resource Hub came from feedback gathered midway through 2022 during LAFS’ first ever Strategic Plan process. The Strategic Plan came together in the midst of record-breaking visits to the food shelf driven by spikes in the cost of living and the expiration of pandemic relief programs.

LAFS Board members heard from individuals who use the food shelf, from a cross section of community and business leaders, and from social service experts. There was consensus to keep food as a primary service and to expand LAFS’ mission through partnerships with existing experts. The LAFS location in Pequot Lakes was cited as a significant asset in taking this approach.

“We discussed the severe shortage of direct service providers located in our area,” said LAFS Director Adams. “Brainerd 20 miles from Pequot Lakes, is a hub of wonderful service providers. Yet, to someone whose car runs on prayer instead of fuel, or whose bicycle couldn’t travel that distance, those 20 miles might as well be 200 miles.”

“At LAFS, we have a saying. In order to achieve community, we need each other to build one,” said Board Chair Moore. “Our community understands the need. Through the Hunger Free & Healthy campaign, we’ll build a Community Resource Hub that delivers long-term positive impact for us all.”

Individuals or groups wishing to donate to Hunger Free & Healthy can do so by sending a check to:

Hunger Free & Healthy Campaign
Lakes Area Food Shelf
PO Box 423
Pequot Lakes, MN 56472
or by visiting the food shelf website at https://lakesareafoodshelf.org/donate All donations are tax deductible.

About Lakes Area Food Shelf - Lakes Area Food shelf is grateful to have served the communities of Pequot Lakes, Nisswa, Breezy Point, Lake Shore, Jenkins, and the surrounding area since 1980. We were established by Donald M. Messick, a former grocery executive who resided in Pequot Lakes, with the help of Lutheran Church of the Cross and Christ Community Church, both of Nisswa. Due to its rapid growth, we were named “Lakes Area Food Shelf” in 1991. We're a 501 c 3 public charity, and we operate solely on financial, food, and other donations. We have earned the trust of the thousands of people we’ve served each year and have become a primary community resource for people facing hunger and seeking assistance with major barriers.

About The Blandin Foundation - As the largest Minnesota-based foundation serving only rural communities, Blandin Foundation engages deeply in rural communities. Yet the realities facing rural Minnesota communities and Native Nations today call us to find new ways to help rural people build toward strong futures. Rural places often get the short end of the funding stick. Only a fraction of public and private dollars make their way to rural, leaving a big resource gap for communities working for stronger rural futures. Leadership Boost Grants are one way we can spark energy and action toward sustainable rural futures. More at https://bit.ly/RuralBoostGrants

About The Hunt Family Fund – Established in 2006, the Hunt Family Fund builds on concepts of sustainability and in bringing the community together to solve problems. Paul and Lynn Hunt use a concept called “Resilient Living” - a set of tools, habits, lifestyle and infrastructure, that helps you live well during good economic times and bad. It makes you less vulnerable to the whims of nature, climate change, politics and marketeers. It builds stronger, healthier, and happier individuals, families, businesses, communities and ecology by making each of those less vulnerable and needy. More at https://www.hugllc.com/who-we-are

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