When Rusty Gunn asks for help, it’s hard to ignore him.

The lead pastor of Church That Matters has made it his mission to make sure people are taken care of during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing food for free for the most vulnerable in the area – the young and elderly.

Since the pandemic shut down inside dining at restaurants, Gunn has gone out in the trenches, providing food by pick-up or delivery, and he’s had some friends help along the way.

Gunn owns SouthSide Coneys and they’ve been providing free coneys, and Travis Lawley of Minuteman Pizza immediately got in on the action. However, Lawley has had to step back a bit, and Cheezie’s Pizza was next in line to help.

“Travis at Minuteman has a son who lives with him who has asthma and was also expecting a baby, so (Travis) had made a decision to close and was not going to be able to partner with us any longer,” Gunn said. “I wanted to still offer a variety of food each week and not just Coneys every day. We also needed to give our SouthSide Coneys Crew a chance to recoup each week. So, I just reached out to Cheezie’s and some others to find those who could handle the volume of food we needed and could give us a good deal to stretch dollars to help as many as possible for as long as possible. Cheezies was up to the challenge and has been an amazing partner in this,”

Last week, Cheezie’s provided pizza to go along with Southside’s coneys.

Now, Gunn is sponsoring a cooking competition – a quarantine cook-off. Sponsored by Church That Matters and set for Saturday, May 16, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the cook off will showcase some of the culinary talents of area grillers.

“Basically, it will be kind of a drive-through chillin’ and grillin’. We have seven competition professional barbecue teams who will be smoking meat and giving out food as people drive through. People will have the opportunity to vote for their favorite by using a website. There will be fun and games for the kids, including a dunk tank that they will do a drive-by shooting on. We will also be giving out meat and groceries for people to take home to cook themselves. All while supplies last, of course,” Gunn said.

​Kirk McCracken 918-581-8315