West Frankfort Church Provides Summer Meals

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By Evie Allen
By Rachel Duensing

WEST FRANKFORT -- Lunch time at First Christian Church in West Frankfort is an adventure for some kids.

"This is my first year, but it's been awesome seeing my friends," said ten-year-old Joshua Griggs.

Every weekday the church provides meals, playtime and Christian teaching to kids of all ages. They call it summer S.L.A.M., which stands for Serving Love and Meals.

"It's not just this local church. It is the church as a whole and West Frankfort as a whole, that is stepping up," says Pastor Jason Ishmael.

Ishmael says the program started four years ago with state funding. But the money came with strict rules when it comes to religion. So the church made the decision to self fund the program.

"There's no amount of money that could shut us up about the thing that we love the most. And the whole point of all of this is to show them how much Jesus loves them," he says. 

The program costs around $10,000. Through generous donations from local churches and other organizations, they're able to feed nearly 80 kids a day. They also provide rides to and from the church. Ishmael says the goal is make sure they help meet the need in the community.

"We want our students to go back to school and to go back to their families, and for the world that they live in to be a better place because they're in it right now," he adds.

Dozens volunteer their time to help cook, clean and look after the kids. Griggs says the experience has been life changing. 

"I had a fun time here, and whenever it ends I'm going to be so sad because I won't get to see my friends," he says. "I'll be so sad."

The summer S.L.A.M. program in West Frankfort runs from goes from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. It ends August 9. 

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