About Us

Over 40 Years Of Service
Lakes Area Food shelf is grateful to have served the Brainerd Lakes Area area for over 40 years. We were established in 1980 by Donald 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.

  • Our Mission: To serve as a trusted community resource by helping our friends and neighbors become hunger free and obtain a healthy lifestyle.
  • Our Vision: That we served friends and neighbors in time of need, with many now able to help others.
  • Our Core Values: We are: Non-judgmental to all who seek assistance. Approachable for all. Principled in our service delivery and decision-making. Respected Stewards of resources.

Driven By Volunteers
They unload semi-trucks full of food. They stock the shelves. They load groceries into vehicles. Most importantly, they greet those who need the food shelf with dignity, empathy, and a smile. Our over 50 volunteers dedicate thousands of hours each year to keep this community’s food shelf operating, no matter what the challenges. Some of our volunteers have been with us for decades. Others are seasonal residents. All are committed to giving back to their communities. Without them there would be no Lakes Area Food Shelf! We are grateful for their skills, compassion, and dedication.

Making Donations Count
Lakes Area Food Shelf is funded through donations from businesses, individuals, clubs, municipalities, churches and foundations; and public and private grants. We rely heavily on contributions from the community to meet the ever-growing needs. We receive $1000 dollar checks from foundations and $10 checks from individuals offering what they can afford. We are committed to the National Council of Foundations Guidelines to keep administrative costs at or less of 30% of our budget.

Home Tour
This annual October MEA weekend Home Tour is our largest fundraiser.  It has a 30-year history of transporting participants via coach bus to amazing homes in the Nisswa area. For more information on this fabulous event, please click here.

Lakes Area Food Shelf Board of Directors

Tammy Larsen - Director
Tamara “Tammy” Larsen is Director of Lakes Area Food Shelf, responsible for daily operations as well as executing the LAFS Strategic Plan.  Ms. Larsen’s appointment came by a unanimous vote of the LAFS Board of Directors during its regular meeting in August of 2023. This is a homecoming for Tammy, who led LAFS in 2020 and 2021, guiding the food shelf through the COVID 19 pandemic. Before joining LAFS, Tammy worked in tech and banking, leading strong technical teams developing and supporting large, complex analytical systems as well as selling and implementing data warehousing and business intelligence software.  She earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in organizational leadership from St. Catherine University in St. Paul.  She lives in Pequot Lakes with her husband Tom, who’s been a LAFS volunteer

Tim Moore, Chair
Tim has been a steady volunteer since COVID; he worked/volunteered as Interim Director for 3 months. Tim’s prior work includes management of Grand View Lodge and ownership of Lost Lake Lodge. He is actively involved with Cass County and is Chair of its Planning and Zoning Commission. Tim and his wife Cindy live in Lake Shore.

Dale Carlson Vice President
Dale is recently retired after spending his entire career in the building materials industry. He currently serves on the board of directors for Edco Products, a manufacturer and national distributor of metal roofing and siding products. Dale and his wife Deb have been Tuesday volunteers since December ’20. He augments the LAFS board with budgeting, strategic planning, financial, and operations management skills.

Jean Kraft, Secretary
Jean grew up in the Twin Cities, raised by parents who valued volunteerism. Jean has continued their legacy. For 11 years she was the Program Coordinator for Kinship Partners. Most recently Jean coordinated the northern route (Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Jenkins, Pine River and surroundings areas) of Operation Sandwich. Jean has served on the board of Brainerd Lakes Outreach-Kids Against Hunger as well as The Crossing Arts Alliance. She also was on the Pequot Lakes School Board for 10 years. After living in the area for 35 years, Jean feels her connectedness to the community will be of benefit to the Lakes Area Food Shelf.

Pastor Jennifer Matthees
Pastor Jenn is the pastor at Grace United Methodist Church in Pequot Lakes. Originally from Winona, MN, she moved to the area a couple years ago with her crazy dogs. She has one recently married daughter who lives in Texas. Her goal is to create a stronger bond between LAFS, which sits across the parking lot from Grace UMC, and the church, not just her own but all of the faith communities in the area.

Mark Casey
Mark is a journalist, originally from Western Pennsylvania. He grew up in what was once the heart of mining and steel making in America.  Mark and his family received food assistance from the United Steel Workers Union during strikes and lay-offs  - his father was a mill carpenter - and the experience made him and advocate for those who are food insecure. Mark is on the board of Arizona Food Bank Network that supports five major food banks in operations and public affairs. Although his primary residence is Arizona, he and his wife spend the summer months on Lower Mission Lake in Merrifield.

George Miller
George is a retired executive from the Minnesota North District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. He worked for the Minnesota North District for 25 years. During that time, he was the District Vice President for the Lutheran Church Extension Fund which is the investment and loan division of the LCMS. He and his wife, Colette, have been married for 35 years and have lived in the Brainerd Lakes area for that entire time. They attend Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Pequot Lakes

Kip Sandoz
Kip Sandoz is semi-retired after spending 40 years managing security operations in the Upper Midwest area. He was also the Fire Chief in Lexington, Mn for 23 years, and worked as a police officer for the Lino Lakes and Centennial Lakes police departments. He has served as a board member for the Minnesota 100 Club, the State of Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, and the Minnesota Private Detectives and Protective agents. Kip and his wife Cindy live in Lake Shore and both volunteer at the food shelf.

Ken Maddux
Ken has recently returned to the lakes area from Eagan where he has resided for the past 10 years. In the 15 years before retirement, he was a vice president of St. Cloud Technical and Community College, leading the Center for Innovation and Economic Development. His last 5 years before retirement were spent as Executive Director of the Harold Anderson Entreprenurial Center, at St. Cloud State University. During his time in St. Cloud, Ken served on and led the boards of many privately held companies and non-profits in the area.

Dr. Jeremiah Eisenschenk
Dr. Eisenschenk is a graduate of University of Minnesota Medical School and St. John's Family Medicine Residency where he also served as Chief Resident. He is board certified in Family Medicine and Obesity Medicine and practices both for Essentia Health - Brainerd where he also Division Chair of Hospital Medicine at St. Joe's Hospital. He is the co-founder of Essentia Health - Brainerd Weight Management Department and Lakes Area Low-Carb Conference, the first low-carb conference in Minnesota. He was recognized as a "Top Doc" in Family Medicine by Minnesota Monthly Magazine in 2019 and quoted by DietDoctor.com (http://dietdoctor.com/) on his clinical approach to low-carb medicine. He is a guest lecturer at University of Minnesota Medical School where he presents on metabolic health and financial literacy for medical students and residents. Jeremiah and his wife Ashley live near Crosslake, MN with their two children and enjoy exploring the outdoors, time with family, and growing and cooking real foods.

Lou Frillman
Lou Frillman is a longtime real estate consultant with a global practice. He and his wife Carol have become increasingly focused on food as a philanthropic focus. They feel the needs are great and they are regular givers to many food based non-profits, both global and very local. The local part is easy to express; they know needs are great and they believe part of being a good neighbor is supporting food banks that are active in the communities they reside. They also try to get their kids involved in their giving as they want them to think about how to help others regularly.

Abbie Hoelscher
Born and raised in the Brainerd Lakes area, started her career with American Family Insurance in 2008 (Becker, MN). In 2009, she moved to the Pequot Lakes office and never left. She is passionate about being involved in and giving back to the kids and the community. Since 2020, our agency has hosted a customer appreciation event in December and partnered with LAFS where the citizens come together to help. Abbie and her husband, Joe, live in Pequot Lakes with their 3 kids and enjoys reading, spending time with family, being out on the lake and playing volleyball.

Lance Bragstad

Lance is a lifelong resident of Pequot Lakes and recently retired from a 40-year career in telecommunications industry. After retirement, Lance and his wife Robyn moved to the Bragstad century farm just west of Pequot Lakes. They raise heritage Red Poll cattle, hydroponic lettuce and produce. Their focus is maintaining the health of the soil, farm education and providing food for generations to come. What started as a retirement hobby has since turned into a community mission. Having instilled the importance of a healthy lifestyle, nutritious food, and sustainability with their children and grandchildren. It has begun a community passion for them to help feed and educate others. Lance’s hope is to bring insight to the LAFS board from a grower's perspective.