Collinsville BBQ restaurant passes out free meals to kids during pandemic


COLLINSVILLE, Ill. – When the pandemic began, Red Top Barbecue and Chili started preparing lunches and handing them out for free to kids in Collinsville.

After three months of the owners spending their money to help others, the Collinsville community started to pitch in as well.

“We got a message that Friday was the last day of school up here again,” Melissa Gilmore, owner of the barbecue restaurant said. “So, we decided to start it back up today.”

Gilmore said she does this because there’s a lot of people who can’t afford to feed their children three meals a day.

“I feel like if we can take the burden off one meal, it’s a big help,” Gilmore said.

“It’s much needed because you have families struggling to take care of their children and with school not being in, they’re missing meals throughout the day,” volunteer Cynthia Young said. “This is a good way to give back and they’re able to come get a meal.”

On Sunday, the restaurant posted to social media letting patrons know they’re open for business and firing up the grill to make sure children have a warm free meal.

“With the kids being out of school, that’s one more meal we’re having to try and afford,” Sarah Castelli, Red Top customer said. “As slow as businesses are right now, it’s hard for families to have that extra money especially with the holidays.”

The restaurant said they’ll continue doing this five days a week from 11 a.m. to 3 pm. as long as they can.

“We just need good people in the world,” Larry Gilmore, owner of Red Top said. “We’ve got too much going on and with the pandemic and the election there’s too much stress and we just want to cheer people up.”

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