The agency that deals with food insecurity in the Northland is looking for a broader palette on its board of directors.

Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank put out a call Monday for applicants who will broaden its diversity and increase the size of its 11-member governing board.

The agency expects to add four new members to its board. Applications are due June 18.

“We want our board to represent the people we’re serving, so when we put out the request we wanted to make sure we were at least getting representation from all counties,” board member Kate Dean said.

Dean is the executive director of the Essentia Institute of Rural Health, and, like many of Second Harvest’s current board members, she’s an accomplished person from Duluth.

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But Second Harvest’s food bank distributes food to eight counties in Northeastern Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin. So, while the board leads with good intentions, Dean said it’s striving for new voices.

“We’ve had conversations about the fact that making assumptions about what people need isn’t in the best interest of the neighbors we serve,” Dean said.

Executive Director Shaye Moris described the role of the board of directors as plotting the strategic vision for the organization.

“While staff is dealing with, say, trying to get food on the road to feed people, the board is thinking longer term than that,” Moris said.

It’s a dynamic time for Second Harvest, which is involved in a planning process that's leading the agency to find a new site for its operations.

The current location near the Duluth International Airport, valued at more than $1.2 million, no longer fits the needs of the organization, Moris said.

“When we built the building in 1999, we were primarily a food bank distributing food to other nonprofits,” Moris said. “Today, we provide direct-service programs; we didn’t build to offer directly to the public.”

Moris said she’ll have a better idea of where Second Harvest will be headed later in the fall at the completion of its planning process.

Meaning it’s a good time for new voices. As an example, Dean said she would love to see a young parent join the board.

“We’re looking to the future and trying to be as insightful as we can for what we’re going to need down the road,” Dean said. “People need to just bring their life wisdom with them and trust in the fact that what they’ve experienced is similar to their neighbors.”

In particular, candidates are being sought from the following areas:

  • Geography — individuals from north St. Louis, Lake, Cook, Ashland and Iron counties.

  • Ethnicity — individuals of color, Native and Indigenous people, historically underrepresented minorities.

  • Age — individuals age 40 and younger.

Anyone interested in joining the board can fill out a questionnaire at northernlakesfoodbank.org/who-we-are/staff-and-board.