LFC Builds Sustainability and Legacy
O’Nealya Gronstal began her position as the Executive Director of Lakeshore Food Club (LFC) when the organization held its first Empty Bowls event in 2020. The nonprofit grocery store serving Mason County residents living below 200% of the federal poverty guidelines needed to raise funds to continue supporting for 20-35 households shopping daily. O’Nealya enthusiastically moved around the room that inaugural night, shaking hands with her new community for the first and last time in over a year. Six days later, the world shut down.
Quickly shifting to a pandemic-response format, volunteers packed hundreds of identical food bags to place in the trunks of vehicles lined up each day. LFC also managed the monthly flood of Feeding America food trucks traveling to Mason County; families, isolated by COVID, picked up boxes of bulk food orchestrated by the government.
Returning to its original food club model and mission of providing dignified (choice) access to fresh, healthy foods and essential resources to those in need, O’Nealya reports new challenges. Membership has grown by over 100% during the last 18 months, and food costs have increased by more than 85% since 2022. LFC now serves more than 100 households each day. “We’re not emergency food. We’re sustainability,” explained O’Nealya.
Despite growing numbers, the organization only serves ⅓ of qualifying families in Mason County. Many households located in Eastern Mason County don’t have the resources to travel to the Food Club in Ludington. O’Nealya shared, “There is still much work to be done.”
The purpose of the Lakeshore Food Club Committee Advised Fund is to create sustainability. “I look at it as a way that we are building on our own legacy while building the legacy of our donors. It’s double the impact of making the community thrive.”
Photo courtesy of David Bossick, Ludington Daily News.
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