When recent cuts in the federal budget threatened to cut the Meals on Wheels program, a group of churches in the Sesser community stepped in to provide.
"Its just a fantastic program," said Sesser Mayor Jason Ashmore of the 5 Loaves Café.
Sponsored by the Sesser-Valier Ministerial Alliance, the "café" serves dinner at the Goode Township Building in Sesser once a month.
"We started in March," said Julie Loucks, one of the organizers. "Next week (July 20) will be our fifth month."
Loucks, who splits her "day job" between being an administrative assistant at the Regional Office of Education in Mt. Vernon and a secretary at the Jesus Center in Sesser, said the program has grown each month.
"We started with about 50," she said. "Last month we served over 200."
Loucks said the word is spreading.
"People are messaging me on the Facebook event page," she said. "I even got a call from Florida last week from a gal who wanted her elderly parents in Sesser to be placed on the permanent delivery list."
Both Loucks and Ashmore are quick to admit that the program is about more than feeding the hungry.
"It's good for people to come in and have a decent meal," Ashmore said, "but it's also great for people who live alone and want to come in to socialize and have some fellowship."
Part of that socialization also comes with the meal delivery. Members of the Sesser Police Department are among those who volunteer to deliver meals.
"It's a positive way to have our officers interact with the community," Ashmore said.
Loucks said the program is run by donations.
"What's amazing is that community members are donating just over the top," she said. "We have one lady that used to baked for a local restaurant before retiring. She does a lot of our desserts."
While the main meal is prepared either on site or at the Jesus Center nearby, all of the desserts are donated.
"We have an amazing group of ladies that just take care of that," Loucks said. "I just stand in awe of God's hand in all of this."
The next 5 Loaves Café is planned for July 20.
"It's Mexican night," Loucks said.
Serving begins at 4:30 p.m. and ends at 6:30 p.m. or until the food runs out. eals are free but donations will be accepted. Delivery can be arranged by calling 618-625-5092, and take-out is available.
Ashmore said he hopes to have the city contribute to the program.
"We are going to try and step up to do our part to fund it," he said. "Hopefully we can expand the services for more people."
While Loucks is planning for future dinners, including figuring out exactly how to serve tacos to go, she has no qualms that things will come together and the program will continue to grow.
"It's not me," she insisted, modestly. "It's the hand of God."