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It's a 'Polar-riffic' way to feed families in need: Noon Rotary's spaghetti dinner to benefit Food Pantry this year

These Detroit Lakes Noon Rotarians are all smiles as they dish up generous helpings of spaghetti and meatballs for the annual 'Polar-riffic' Spaghetti Dinner. This year's event is set for Thursday, Feb. 15 at 4:30 p.m. in the cafeteria at M State. (Photo courtesy of Ed Gehrke)1 / 3
The Detroit Lakes Noon Rotary Club's annual 'Polar-riffic' Spaghetti Dinner always attracts big crowds to the M State cafeteria. This year's dinner gets underway at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 15. (Photo courtesy of Ed Gehrke)2 / 3
The Detroit Lakes Noon Rotary Club's annual 'Polar-riffic' Spaghetti Dinner is a big hit with local residents of all ages. This year's dinner is set for Thursday, Feb. 15. (Photo courtesy of Ed Gehrke)3 / 3

The Detroit Lakes Noon Rotary Club's annual 'Polar-riffic' Spaghetti Dinner has become a popular Polar Fest tradition — but this year's event, set for Thursday, Feb. 15 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. inside the cafeteria at M State's Detroit Lakes campus, will have the added benefit of helping to feed local families in need.

"Hunger and food insecurity are a much larger issue in Becker County than most people realize," says Dave long, president of the Detroit Lakes Noon Rotary Club. "Approximately 25 percent of county residents receive help from our local food shelf."

For this reason, the club has decided that proceeds from this year's dinner will benefit the Becker County Food Pantry, where the need has been rising steadily over the past decade.

"In 2017, the Becker County Food Pantry distributed 500,661 pounds of food to 19,200 county residents — including 5,288 families," says Food Pantry Executive Director Brad Carlson. "This equates to an average distribution of about 26 pounds of food per person. Last year also marked the three highest distribution months in Food Pantry history, with 477 families served in January 2017, 505 families served in August 2017 and 494 families served in November 2017."

In addition to sharing the proceeds from this year's spaghetti feed with the Food Pantry, members of Noon Rotary will continue to support the local nonprofit during the month of March, when local food pantries become eligible for matching grants from the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches, based on the amount of monetary and food donations they receive during the month.

Members of the club will also be learning more about community hunger needs and lending a hand by offering personal donations during the coming weeks. "This month, our club is kicking off a dialogue about hunger in our community, in addition to hosting our annual spaghetti dinner and collecting personal donations that will have an impact on local needs," said Long. "On March 22, our club will host a special Rotary lunch, and present our donations to the Food Pantry in recognition if Minnesota FoodShare Month."

Started in 1982, Minnesota FoodShare Month has become the state's largest grassroots food and fundraising drive: In 2017, over $8 million and 4.7 million pounds of food were raised by Minnesota FoodShare and food shelves statewide.

Tickets for the 'Polar-riffic' Spaghetti Dinner are available from any Noon Rotarian, and will also be sold at the door on Feb. 15. Cost is $10 for adults, $7 for children ages 5-17, and free to all children age 4 and under. Takeout meals are also available at the door.

Here is a brief listing of other Polar Fest events taking place this week:

• Monday, Feb. 12: Ski & Snowboard with Polar Pete, Detroit Mountain, 4 p.m.; Polar Explorer Ann Bancroft, Historic Holmes Theatre, 7 p.m.

• Tuesday, Feb. 13: Sweetheart Grams Delivery, Becker County Museum, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Polar Painting Party, La Barista, 5:30 p.m.

• Wednesday, Feb. 14: Polar Putt, 11 a.m., Washington Square Mall; Sweetheart Grams Delivery, Becker County Museum, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Brown Bag Lunch featuring Hans Gilsdorf, Becker County Museum, noon.

• Thursday, Feb. 15: Taekwondo Break-A-Thon, Washington Square Mall, 4 p.m.; Aquavit Social and Grand Opening of Prohibition Exhibit, Becker County Museum, 5 p.m.

• Friday, Feb. 16: Ice Tee Golf, Holiday Inn Lakeside, noon; Helicopter Rides, Detroit Lake, 3 p.m.; PolarPalooza Tubing Races, Detroit Mountain, 6 p.m.; Tuxes & Tails Fundraiser for Humane Society of the Lakes, 6 p.m., Hoilday Inn.

• Saturday, Feb. 17: ULTRA Snowmobile Rally & Swap Meet, 8 a.m., Little Detroit Lake and City Beach; Freeze Your Buns Run, 9 a.m., Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center; Helicopter Rides, Detroit Lake, noon; Fat Bike Demonstrations, City Park, 11 a.m.; Youth Fishing Derby, Rossman Avenue Access, Little Detroit Lake, 11 am.; Polar Fest Plunge, City Beach and Little Detroit Lake, 1 p.m.; Angel of Remembrance Snow Angels, 2:30 p.m., City Park; Frozen Fireworks, Little Detroit Lake, 7 p.m.; Gear Daddies Concert, Historic Holmes Theatre, 8 p.m.; Polaritaville Dance, Hub 41, 8 p.m.

• Sunday, Feb. 18: Live Music at Lodge on the Lake, 5 p.m.; Sunday Funday Tubing, Detroit Mountain, 5 p.m.

• Monday, Feb. 19: Disassembling the Ice Palace, Detroit Lakes City Beach.

Multi-day events include the viewing of King Isbits's Ice Palace & Palatial Playground, City Beach, now through Feb. 18; "History of Ice Harvesting" exhibit, Detroit Lakes Pavilion, Feb. 10 and Feb. 17, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; "Blind Date with a Book," Detroit Lakes Public Library, now through Feb. 21; Ice Drags Racing, Feb. 17-18, Holiday Inn Lakeside; and for curling enthusiasts, there are not just one, but two events, the Vern Turner Memorial Bonspiel, Feb. 9-11, and Canadian Manitoba Hydro Bonspiel, Feb. 17-18, both at Lakes Curling Club. For a complete schedule of events, including details about registration and/or purchasing tickets, please visit

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 17 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454