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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 Lunke’s ran with the idea. Both are well known locally for the volunteer­ing work 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 The only ca­veat is that the food shelf cannot accept outdated items.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.

Steve Fernlund
Steve Fernlund
Typically these “about me” pages include a list of academic achievements (I have none) and positions held (I have had many, but who really cares about those?) So, in the words of the late Admiral James Stockwell, “Who am I? Why am I here?” I’m well into my seventh decade on this blue planet we call home. I’m a pretty successful husband, father, and grandfather, at least in my humble opinion. My progeny may disagree. We have four children and five grandchildren. I spent most of my professional life in the freight business. At the tender age of 40, early retirement beckoned and we moved to Grand Marais. A year after we got here, we bought and operated the Cook County News Herald, a weekly newspaper in Grand Marais. A sharp learning curve for a dumb freight broker to become a newspaper editor and publisher. By 1999 the News Herald was an acquisition target for a rapidly consolidating media market. We sold our businesses and “retired” again, buying a winter retreat in Nevada. In the fall of 2016, we returned to Grand Marais and bought a house from old friends of ours on the ridge overlooking Lake Superior. They were able to move closer to family and their Mexico winter home. And we came home to what we say is our last house. I’m a strong believer in the value of local newspapers--both online and those you can wrap a fish in. I write a weekly column and a couple of feature stories for the Northshore Journal. I’m most interested in writing about the everyday lives of local people and reporting on issues of importance to them.
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