Amidon was packed April 6.
One of North Dakota’s smallest towns had more than 60 people fill the Lebanon Lutheran Church to watch one of their own be honored by the Great Plains Food Bank.
According to officials with the regional food bank that serves North Dakota and parts of Minnesota, it was time to honor Linda Narum as a 2020 Hunger Relief Champion.
“The coordinator of the Amidon Community Cupboard, Narum has been fighting hunger in southwestern North Dakota for decades, the regional group explained when they announced that she had been named. In addition, to her work managing a wide service area for the Community Cupboard, Linda has found unique ways to serve “those in need,” the organization explained in a release announcing the award.
“Over the summer, she would travel with a truck and trailer to Dickinson to pick up 200 USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program boxes to distribute to those in need in New England, Bowman and Amidon.
“She was instrumental in starting a BackPack Program in New England the moment she realized it was needed.
“In recent years, Linda, along with her late husband Harold, made regular 400-mile trips to Wahpeton and, while on the other side of the state from the Community Cupboard caring for family, her work to end hunger never wavered. Both Linda and Harold became regular volunteers at Churches United for the Homeless in Moorhead, another partner agency of the Great Plains Food Bank.
“Upon her return trips home, Linda continues to stop at the Great Plains Food Bank Fargo warehouse to pick up any additional items for the Community Cupboard. Additionally, Linda is always on the lookout for innovative ways to raise money for the Community Cupboard such as collecting car batteries to turn in for dollars or going above and beyond to secure pallets of bottled water for clients in her region,” the agency explained.
According to Steve Sellent, the Chief Executive Officer for the Great Plains Food Bank, Narum and the team she has working with her at the local community cupboard deserved to be recognized.
“We are super excited to recognize one of our truly key partners. Without a doubt, she is one of our most dedicated volunteers in the whole state,” he said.
The award recognizes “outstanding leadership, extraordinary contributions and steadfast commitment,” Sellent told the people packed into the church for the ceremony and a dinner. He added that Narum also showed a passion for ending hunger.
He also said that the Great Plains Food Bank has more than 15,000 partners and volunteers in the region.
“But, it became crystal clear this year that Linda truly embodies the spirit of this award,” Sellent said. “Everyone here knows that Linda has put in countless hours over the years helping
“One of the things hared with the selection committee is that Linda is always willing and looking for new ideas. One was the idea to collect batteries to help raise some funds,” he added.
“Three things were always mentioned when talking about her work with the food pantry: her positive attitude she always brings to her work, her can-do mentality, and the third was her deep caring and concern for everybody she comes in contact with,” he said.
Sellent also noted that last summer she also made numerous trips to Dickinson to pick up hundreds of boxes of food. “That extra effort served the whole portion of the state.”
He also noted that in the past 11 years that the community cupboard has been a partner with the food bank they have supplied more than 272,000 meals.
Nancy Carriveau, the program director and Rachel Monge, the regional services manager, also praised Narum’s work.
“There is no detail that is left un-thought-about by Linda. She wants to make sure every single person has the experience of their life,” Carriveau said. She brings out something in people that makes them want to give back, the program director added. “We are just so gratefully for everything you have done,” Carriveau added.
Monge was brought to tears as she recounted finding out that Narum was receiving the award. “I was so excited. She deserves it so much.”
When it came time for Narum to respond after receiving the award, she turned the praise around. Wearing a black apron with “Amidon Rainmaker” printed on the front, Narum she began handing out purple roses.
“I stand before you honored, humbled and unconditionally in love with each of you,” Narum stated, saying that the food relief program began by connecting the Red River Valley to the Badlands and the prairie.
“We need the rain gods so badly I figured we got to wear this,” she said, noting that she got the apron during a soup competition.
She then started to call out the names of people who have helped over the years and handed them a rose.
She started with her daughter and son-in-law, who have been cooking for years at a homeless shelter in Moorehead but didn’t stop there.
“Mama always said if there is meat in the freezer, flour to make bread and sugar and juice to make Buffalo Berry Jam, we would never be poor,” Narum told the people in the church dining area.
“I will take a minute and remember my dear Harold. He was one of your heroes... and mine. He’s smiling down on this event.”
In addition to Narum from the Amidon Community Cupboard food pantry, the food bank also announced Sanford Health, North Dakota Farmers Union/Farmers Union Insurance and Wells Fargo Bank as its 2020 Hunger Relief Champion award winners.
A spokesman for the food bank said that during a challenging year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, each individual and organization displayed an exceptional commitment to fight hunger in their communities.
The winners are chosen for their longstanding dedication to the Great Plains Food Bank mission, sharing their time, talent, treasure and voice to ending hunger while demonstrating the values of passion, service and innovation.
“We just experienced a year unlike any other where more people than ever were in need of food assistance,” Great Plains Food Bank President Melissa Sobolik said in a release. “Each one of our Hunger Relief Champions went above and beyond to help in our work when it was needed most. We cannot say thank you enough and congratulations to Sanford Health, North Dakota Farmers Union and North Dakota Farmers Union Insurance, Wells Fargo and Linda Narum for being awarded this high honor.”