By Starrla Cray
HOWARD LAKE, MN Howard Lake’s Ashley Simenson knows that having a loved one away on military duty can be hard especially during the holidays.
That’s why she and fellow Delano High School junior, Sarah Trocke, started “Breaking Bread,” a service project that provides homemade meals to the families of deployed service members.
“Beyond the Yellow Ribbon helped us a lot,” Trocke said, explaining that the organization got them in touch with military families.
Locating families of deployed soldiers can be difficult, according to Beyond the Yellow Ribbon member Stephanie Russek. People who know of a service member or family in the area are encouraged to contact Beyond the Yellow Ribbon at (763) 972-4433 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact Simenson and Trocke directly, email email@example.com.
Simenson is the daughter of Mark and Renee Simenson, and Trocke is the daughter of Robert and Sandy Trocke of Delano.
Comfort is rising
Breaking Bread started out as a National Honor Society service project, but the girls decided to take it beyond the requirements.
They delivered their first round of meals just before Thanksgiving, and are planning another delivery about Christmastime.
“We both just really like to bake, and we were looking for something we could do with that,” Trocke said.
Trocke’s grandfather was in the military, and Simenson has several relatives who have served, including her father, uncles, and cousins.
So far, Breaking Bread has delivered to three families, and the girls are hoping to continue giving each season.
The first delivery included beef stew, potatoes au gratin, dinner rolls, vegetable salad, decorated pumpkin cupcakes, and butter cake.
“We made so much stuff,” said Simenson.
The girls then called the families to schedule a convenient delivery time, and took the food to each home.
Simenson and Trocke secured funding for the meals through a Youth as Resources grant, which required an application detailing a budget and project outline, presented at a meeting.
“I learned a lot about budgeting,” said Trocke.
The girls also learned about meal planning, shopping, and organizing.
“We had made meals for our families before, but never on a large scale,” Trocke said. “It was very fun and eventful.”
Simenson went to Trocke’s house about 1 p.m. on cooking day, and didn’t leave until about 9 p.m.
“We were so tired at the end,” Simenson said.
They made three pans of each menu item, but only two pans fit in the oven at the same time, so cooking took a bit longer.
In the future, the girls said they might cook at church, in order to have more oven space.
In addition to baking for military families, Simenson and Trocke love making desserts for school.
Both girls take advanced classes, and are pursuing careers in medicine. Trocke hopes to be a family doctor, and Simenson is planning to be a veterinarian.
The girls are also on DHS’s cross country and track teams, and enjoy volunteering at their churches.
They chose their project name, “Breaking Bread,” with the slogan “comfort is rising,” to show a Christ-centered theme.
“We wanted to portray the concept of family and comfort,” Trocke said.