Tamara “Tammy” Larsen has been named Director of the Lakes Area Food Shelf (LAFS) in Pequot Lakes. Ms. Larsen’s appointment came by a unanimous vote of the LAFS Board of Directors during its regular meeting in August. She’ll succeed former Director Kathy Adams who resigned in early August. Ms. Larsen will be on the job September 5, 2023. This is a homecoming for Tammy, who led LAFS in 2020 and 2021, guiding the food shelf through the COVID 19 pandemic. She left in the spring of 2021 for family reasons.
“I am grateful for this opportunity to return to Lakes Area Food Shelf and can’t wait to get back to work,” said Ms. Larsen after the board’s vote.
Tammy takes over at a time of transformational growth and change at LAFS, both in the need for food distribution and in expansion of its services. Driven by inflation and the expiration of pandemic relief programs, visits at LAFS are trending upward by at least 30% in 2023. The increases mirror growth in 2021 and 2022 and are consistent with food shelves throughout Minnesota.
LAFS broke ground in June for a $500,000 building addition to house a Community Resource Hub. The Hub will be a satellite office for social service providers. They’ll assist friends and neighbors in overcoming barriers that led them to need the food shelf. This holistic approach addressing the root causes of hunger is endorsed by Feeding America, the leading non-profit hunger advocacy organization in the U.S., because “…hunger is a complex issue. When people face hunger, they often struggle to meet other basic needs.”
The expansion also provides much needed warehouse space as LAFS grows its sourcing through local grocers and the “Farms 2 Food Shelf” program. Farms 2 Food Shelf delivers fresh, high quality, nutrient rich produce to LAFS, Pine River Area Food Shelf and the CommUnity Meals Program, all harvested from area farmers.
“I am thrilled Tammy is back at LAFS, especially in this transformational moment,” said Board Chairperson Tim Moore. “We appreciate Kathy Adams’ vision in engaging the community through the strategic planning process that led to the Hub. Tammy’s strong operational and technical skills will manage both the increased need for food and our expanded services.”
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.