No one goes hungry on Frankful Friday.
That, at least, is the goal of volunteers at Hilltop United Methodist Church, who began this drive-in meal service last October to serve their neighbors in eastern Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Those who come receive a free meal that includes an all-beef hot dog, fruit, juice, and a side dish.
“We realized that most of the homes around us are smaller and have only a one-car garage,” said Rev. Rodney Knock, pastor at Hilltop UMC. “They are best suited for single-parent families, who make up a large percentage of who we serve.”
The idea for Frankful Friday originated in a similar ministry encountered by church youth on a summer trip. Kris Rees, youth director at Hilltop, discussed the possibility with Pastor Rodney and the lay leader committee, who helped bring it to life.
The volunteer base for the ministry reaches far beyond youth, however, as Pastor Rodney is quick to point out.
“We’re trying to make room for all ages and abilities,” he said. “Part of the idea came from one of our oldest members when I visited her. We have elderly folks who come to pray for the people in their cars as they drive through. Everyone has something to offer, and we try to make a way for that to happen.”
Community partnerships have also been a key component of the ministry. Food is purchased through Feeding South Dakota, and local businesses have contributed supplies. The Night Watch Canteen, a well-known food service van shared by several churches in Sioux Falls, is usually available to help serve.
In addition to the meal, the church tries to include some special treat for the 85 people who currently take part, including pumpkins to paint for Halloween and candy canes for Christmas. In January, bags included chicken noodle soup and a baguette. For the winter months, coats and gloves are available at no cost.
As the weather warms, Hilltop plans to add an outdoor food pantry in addition to Frankful Friday. The congregation hopes that tangible acts of service like these will open the doors to deeper participation in the faith community.
“We always include an announcement flier for our church activities and community events,” Pastor Rodney said. “We know not everyone will come, but we want to make sure everyone gets an invitation.”