WOODLAWN — One chartered bus after another rolled up to Apostolic Church of God on Wednesday carrying hundreds of passengers to the 14th Annual Food for the Body and Spirit program, which was sponsored by the Black McDonald's Operators Association.
Inside, guests were treated to performances by a youth choir and the Jesse White Tumblers, free flu shots from Walgreens — and a hot McDonald's breakfast of eggs, grits, biscuits, bacon and pancakes.
It was a perfect combination for 13-year-old Jakea Ball, who said she hoped to return next year.
"I really like the biscuits. I am on my third one," Ball said. "This is how I like to start my day off before going to school."
Her mother, Chartolya Harrington, agreed "everything was nice.
"The service was good and the food was excellent," said 31-year-old Harrington, who lives at the Olive Branch shelter in Chicago Lawn with her six children. " ... This was our first time here but it won't be our last."
Among the many servers were Lance Jones, a McDonald's franchise owner.
"I enjoy events like this one that allows me to interact with customers and share our success with them," said Jones, who owns two McDonald's restaurants.
"I participate every year because it is important that we give back to the community that has shown us so much love," said Allen, who owns five McDonald's restaurants, including the first black-owned McDonald's at 6560 S. Stony Island Ave.
"To see kids smiling and people enjoying their meal let's me know this is a worthwhile cause," said Allen.
On Nov. 25 Allen will provide a free dinner to the South Shore Drill Team at his McDonald's at 6900 S. Lafayette Ave. before the youth group heads to New York to participate in the Macy's Parade. He previously provided dinner to the group in January before it headed to Washington, D.C. to perform in the Presidential Inaugural Parade.
"I like what they [South Shore Drill Team members] do and that's provide an activity for our kids to keep them off the streets," added Allen.
The hot breakfast was what Darryl Daniels said he needed before going to work.
"It was pleasant. This was my second time attending and if I did not have to go to work I would stay longer, but I'll be back," said the 58-year-old Lilydale South Side resident.
Besides the food, Tuesday Sumrell, 30, said she was impressed with the customer service.
"Everyone was polite and respectful when serving us and I like that," said the single mother, who lives in West Englewood with her three small children. "I can't find anything that was not to my satisfaction and that's a good thing."
But South Side residents were not the only ones in attendance. Nancy Thomas and Cheryl Sconiers said they traveled from the Near West Side to have breakfast.
"The service was good and the food was good. What two more reasons do you need to come this far South? I just wish it was on the West Side," said Thomas, 64. "But at least I see one of the West Side McDonald's owners [Ron Lofton] here. I eat at his restaurant on Roosevelt Road all the time."
And Sconiers described how she felt about the breakfast event in one sentence: "I'm lovin it."