Hunger Hero Award John Leikness

Every year, North Country gives out the Hunger Hero Award. This award is the highest honor bestowed by the Food Bank. It is given to an individual who has had a major, positive, and lasting impact on North Country’s ability to distribute food to people in need across our region. This year’s Hunger Hero Award was presented to John Leikness. There is nobody more deserving.

John Leikness began making a difference in Perham and across our entire service area soon after stepping into the director position at The Bridge in Perham more than 12 years ago. It was easy to see right off the bat that John was going to be a huge, positive influence on the entire hunger fighting community. He possesses strong leadership skills. He is a solution finder, and he was willing to entertain new ideas and find a way to fund them and put them into action. Quite frankly, John is every food bank’s dream partner!

John was a food shelf director that really understood why we are all here doing what we do. He understood that the goal is to feed people, not to judge people. He understood that the goal is to make people feel welcomed and cared about, not shamed. Most importantly, he understood the client was the top priority. John’s philosophy was that the client had to leave the food shelf feeling better than when they stepped through the door. The atmosphere at The Bridge is a testament to John’s values, beliefs, and work ethic.

John’s dedication to his work, his innovation, and his compassion are second to none. And, because of this, so many people struggling with hunger in Perham and surrounding communities, as well as people across northwest Minnesota, have not had to go to bed hungry. John retired from his position at The Bridge on October 11, 2022, and as result, The Bridge, the Perham community and surrounding areas, and the Food Bank are losing a giant. We are committed to moving forward with and expanding upon the great work John has started. John has made a real and lasting difference in the fight against hunger. We could not be more thankful, appreciative, or grateful for his work these past 12 years and wish him nothing but the best in his retirement and the future.