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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) – Bethel A.M.E. Church is looking to feed one child at a time with its free after school program.

"It's hard to focus on an empty stomach," said Bethel A.M.E. Pastor D. Lavel Crawford. "We have so many children that are elementary age that are not making it through. They are failing."

In its second year, the church's afterschool program is open to all students, regardless of where they live.

"We want to provide a healthy meal and a healthy environment for school age students," Crawford said.

For Crawford, the chance to help even one child is enough to call it a success.

"That one child might be the next Barack Obama," he said. "That's the perspective we have, and that's the approach we are taking."

Church Volunteer Melba Thompson oversees the program and prepares the food.

"Some of the children won't receive a meal when they get home," Thompson said.

So she and four volunteers prepare well-balanced meals, with fruits and veggies always ready for hungry students. The church provides homework time, mentoring, cultural enhancement, and physical activities between 3:30 and 5:30pm.

"We want them to feel special when they come here, that they're not only coming to eat, but they are coming to see a smiling face and get a hug," Thompson said.

"That's what God put the church on the earth for to be available for the needs of people," Crawford said.

The program is open to students aged 5 to 18 as long as they are in school. For more information, or if you'd like to contribute, you can visit Bethel A.M.E's Facebook page: http://on.kthv.com/1c6prUQ

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