[Helping People Feed People]
Story by Carly Syverson
Photography provided by Holly Diestler and Starling Aristry
In 2019, the bold idea from a somewhat unlikely pair became reality when Kari Lugo, a marketing/promotions director, and Jason Boynton, an NDSU math professor and musician, put into motion their plan to eradicate food insecurity in the Fargo/Moorhead area. This movement, which soon became known as, Lunch Aid North Dakota, has become increasingly successful. In the past 2.5 years, they have distributed the funds they raised to groups of people in need of a helping hand. In order to accomplish this task, the two, with the help of the community, organized concerts to draw crowds and donations.
In their debut year, Lunch Aid North Dakota focused their attention on eliminating student lunch debt for kids in the F/M area by partnering with the Fargo Public School Foundation. The two relied on their skill sets to help maximize community outreach. They poured their time and efforts into raising money by spreading their message through social media, and organizing the event into exactly what they wanted it to be. Because of this, along with the help and support of over a dozen local businesses and many musicians who volunteered their time and talent, Lunch Aid was a great success. People around this movement were inspired to donate as well as to help spread the message within the community.
With one year under their belt and with current student lunch debt on hold due to Covid-19, the team set their sights on a new goal. They partnered with Heart -N- Soul Community Café, a nonprofit aimed at helping feed members of the community suffering from food insecurity. There was a higher influx of people looking for assistance, as a result of the negative impacts of the health crisis, and they were struggling to feed their families. Lunch Aid decided to shift their focus to the current need and also adjusted the normally live show to a digital platform, airing live concerts several nights in a row through Livewire. Once again, the community showed their support, and they were able to raise enough funds to help ease the struggles for many in Fargo/Moorhead.
Plans for the 2021 event are already well underway, and the excitement continues to grow. The recipient for this year’s fundraiser is The Neighborhood Church, who utilize pop-up pantries and other resources to feed members of the community and offer assistance. The team hopes to once again reach their goal and move one step closer to eradicating hunger in the F/M area. When asked to sum up her experience with this project thus far, Lugo said, “Creating Lunch Aid with Jason Boynton has been an amazing opportunity to be able to serve others in our community. As a Christian, my faith demands that I share the gifts I am afforded with others in need. Through our efforts, we hope our community can feel the love we have to share.” As they continue to expand, the organization has the potential to do an immense amount of good for so many people. Lugo and Boynton remain incredibly grateful for all they have been able to accomplish and look forward to what the future will bring them.
To follow along with their journey and keep up with the latest updates about Lunch Aid, check out their Facebook page, Lunch Aid North Dakota.
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