Program Refuels Youth With Books And Food

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
Faith Chapel, in Cole Camp, became involved in a summer program called Refuel in 2014, providing 500 free meals for kids in Cole Camp. The program was expanded to include Lincoln in 2015, and began serving Warsaw in 2016. Refuel now provides meals everyday in 100 localities, in six counties. By the end of this summer, the program will have fed 100,000 kids, 15,000 of those in Benton County.
The Faith Chapel’s Refuel program serves kids in Warsaw at Lay Park, from 10:45 to 11:15 AM. It serves meals at both parks in Lincoln from 11 to 11:30 AM, and in Cole Camp in Water Tower Park, from 12:15 to 12:45 PM.
“We prepare meals for Benton County out of our church kitchen, and those for other counties out of a Sedalia junior high school FEMA kitchen,” said Faith Chapel Pastor Dr. Troy L. McCrory Sr. “We follow the food pyramid offering kids a variety of delicious, healthy foods that they might not have tried before such as pulled pork sliders with pineapple garnish, apple BBQ beans (with a crunch to them), and Brussel sprouts roasted with honey, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar. We have passion fruit, cotton candy grapes, and fresh vegetables too. We are monitored by the health department and USDA makes sure our menus meet their guidelines. Several  times a month we  provide snow cones in six or seven different flavors.”
Pastor McCrory said the church also has a bus, provided in part by the No Kid Hungry national program. Kids who live in service locations where there are no parks can eat their meals on the bus which has been fitted with tables and a bench. 
Meals aren’t the only benefit kids can look forward to at lunch time. Faith Chapel has teamed up with Boonslick Regional Library, obtaining free books to give to kids during their meal time. The Literary Council has also collected 16,000 books to add to those from the library. During the week beginning June 15th, 85 free books were given out in Warsaw, and several hundred in Lincoln. 
“There are also activities for the children before and after their meals, such as sidewalk chalking, sports, using playground equipment and arts and crafts,” said Pastor McCrory. “Kids enjoy the time playing with each other and making friends with kids they will probably see again when school starts. There are no qualifications or paperwork required for kids to be a part of this program. Some come to get the books, but when they see the food they stay to eat.”
Pastor McCrory said that some volunteers help prepare the meals and others serve them at the different locations. The program is also helped by many organizations, businesses and individuals. USDA helps with $1.86 per meal, and a lot of food comes from local restaurants and churches. For example, Tyson Chicken has provided two tons of chicken and retail groups provide a lot of volunteers. One lady donates tomatoes and peppers from her greenhouse, and the owner of the German Table in Cole Camp donated dinosaur chicken nuggets she bought at Sam’s Club.  Casey’s helps with fuel, and Walmart provides supplies. The pastor said  the program would not be successful without this support.
“We send out flyers at schools and use the school telephone system to contact families, letting them know about the Refuel program,” said Pastor McCrory. “We also have permanent banners in parks to let local people know that they are service locations.”
The pastor said he and his wife, Zanita McCrory, have been in this area for about seven years, after traveling to many other places. He said that he has never seen a community like this where people donate their time, food, and so many other  supplies. He said for those who might be interested in helping, they can call the church at 660-530-7476. Information is also available through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and many other facets of communication.
The program starts in each city the week after school is out, and runs until school begins again for the fall term.