Ministry expands hot-meal program

A local ministry recently got the wheels rolling on a new effort to feed hungry children.

The Alley in Seymour is expanding its services and soon will begin transporting kids to its hot meal site on East Second Street.

Pastor Rick Wilson said he and The Alley Kitchen staff felt called upon to make sure kids had access to a third meal daily.

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“Kids can eat breakfast and lunch at school, but when they get home, there is no guarantee they will get supper,” he said. “It’s sad to think that happens here, but it does more than we know.”

The Alley Kitchen serves free hot meals to the public from 4:30 to 6 p.m. seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Currently, anywhere between 60 and 100 people are coming in every day to eat, Wilson said. But children don’t always have a way of getting there on their own, he added.

“We feel like there are a lot of kids out there that aren’t getting here to eat, and we want to go get them,” he said.

When Bill Gray, branch manager of Integrity Mortgage Group in Seymour, learned of the church’s plans, he decided he wanted to help.

So the business made a donation of a new van to pick up children and bring them to The Alley Kitchen to eat.

The transportation service is scheduled to begin Dec. 1. Parents or guardians who want their child to participate should call The Alley at 812-525-5858 to schedule rides.

“We’re in the process of getting with the schools to send a letter home to parents about how they can get signed up,” Wilson said.

The van will run between 4:30 and 6 p.m. and will pick up children at their homes and then return them when they are done eating.

“Once we see where the need is, we’ll have a better idea of where we’ll be going,” he said.

Anyone interested in being a volunteer driver should also contact the church at 812-525-5858.

Wilson doesn’t know how many kids to expect, but he won’t turn away anyone.

“Since it has never been done, we don’t know,” he said. “But we expect quite a few, and we’ll take whoever will come.”

Gray is a member of the Kairos Prison Ministry, a group of Christian men who visit state prisons weekly to spend time with inmates.

He said it’s the community’s responsibility to take care of its most vulnerable population and not to ignore the problem.

“There are hungry kids everywhere,” he said. “These are our kids; these are our neighbors. They are our children of the community; they are our future.”

The van helps make The Alley Kidz Feeding Ministry a reality, and the donation was made in God’s name to carry out his work, Gray said.

“This is not about, ‘Hey, look at me, look what I did,’” Gray said. “It is about taking care of our future and about being obedient to God. These are his children and our children.”

With ongoing expenses for food and fuel for the van, Wilson said he is seeking local businesses that would be willing to donate $50 a month for a year.

Each business that donates will have its logo put on the van, and Wilson hopes to get 100 businesses to participate.

Gray and his wife, Gail, along with the staff at Integrity, are now challenging other local businesses and individuals to give to the cause, whether it be a donation of money, food or time volunteering.

“Ask yourself tonight at the dinner table, ‘What can I do to make sure there are no children going to bed hungry tonight?’” Gray said. “We as the community of Seymour and all of Jackson County have the opportunity to do something here that will change people’s lives. Do it because it’s the right thing to do.”

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To schedule your children to be picked up for a free daily, hot meal at The Alley Kitchen, 416 E. Second St. in Seymour, or to help support The Alley Kidz Feeding Ministry, contact the church at 812-525-5858.

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