by Brent Frankenhoff
Once each week, families in need in the Tomorrow River School District can pay a visit to the Tomorrow River Area Community Kitchen (TRACK) at Peace Lutheran Church, 293 South Main Street, in Amherst. There, they’ll be provided with a food voucher and allowed to pick out groceries from the group’s storage area.
According to current organizers, John and Betty Olson, TRACK was established by Gordon and Diane Sauve in 1986 at Peace Lutheran. The Sauves had moved to the area the year before from Milwaukee, where they had helped with a food pantry, and brought the idea to Amherst. As the program grew, other churches and the Tomorrow River community became involved, helping through donations of food and money as well as assisting with the food distribution each week.
“Connie Pitt worked here for many years, until health issues forced her to retire,” Betty Olson told the Spirit. “Other folks who help these days include Melba Carey, Elton Williams, and Jan Calvey.” Additional volunteers assist when needed, she added.
Currently, the program serves about 35 to 40 families. And, while many food pantries note a reduction in donations after the holiday season, Olson said that TRACK is fortunate in that the community and area churches donate throughout the year. Other area organizations and businesses, including the Boy Scouts, the Lions, the Post Office, the Sons of Norway, the Jensen Community Center, and the Little Britches Rodeo all have food drives at various points in the year, which help keep the shelves stocked consistently throughout the year. Of course, additional donations, either food items or money, by individuals and businesses are always encouraged, allowing TRACK to help more families in need.
TRACK distributes food two days each week, Mondays from 8 to 10 a.m., and Thursdays from 5 to 7 p.m. Donations can be dropped off at the TRACK office at Peace Lutheran Church Tuesdays through Fridays from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. or during TRACK hours. Recently, a new policy was put in place that if the Tomorrow River Schools are closed, so is TRACK.
On behalf of TRACK, Betty and John offered a big thank you to the community for all their contributions. “We are wealthy in friends, and so blessed,” Betty added.