Volunteers in Grand Marais Create a 52-week Food Shelf Challenge

Inspired by the work of her friend Jody Hepola for the Two Harbors Foodshelf program at the end of last year, Donna Lunke and her husband Orvis organized a 52--week Food Shelf Challenge to benefit the Grand Marais and Grand Portage food shelves in 2024. 

“There’s a real need for the food shelf right now,” Orvis said. 

In addition to increased demand from the community, the food shelves run short of certain items from their suppliers. Donna and Orvis undertook the project to help the local food shelves fill those shortfalls.

Every week, Donna publishes a flyer on the community-oriented social media pages identifying the product needed for that week. The food shelf has a bin at Johnson’s and Gene’s Foods in Grand Marais to receive donations. Shoppers can buy one of the items needed and drop it in the bin by the door as they leave. 

The first week was canned peaches. The second week, it was peanut butter.

“This is a simple way to help address food insecurity in our area,” Donna said. “Everybody can participate,” she added.

Donna told us that she saw Jody Hepola doing a similar drive for specific items in Two Harbors last year and asked Gwen Lenz of the Grand Marais food shelf if she could do the same thing here. Donna got the thumbs up, and the Lunkes ran with the idea. Both are well known locally for the volunteering they do.

The goal is for as many community members as possible to donate one item each week throughout the year. The only caveat is that the food shelf cannot accept outdated items.

So far, the concept has met with some success and interest from the community. The Lunkes have taken on the additional task of collecting the donated items at the store and bringing them to the Grand Marais food shelf. They’d be delighted to see those bins fill up several times each week.