Local Churches Provide Food, Community & Resources to People Struggling with Addiction


two volunteers grilling hotdogs

Thanks to PHI's Communities Rise and Urban League of Metropolitan Saint Louis Inc., Grill to Glory brings together local churches to host cookouts for residents, helping to reach people struggling with addiction with resources and care.

100K+ people connected to vaccines and food

208 churches participated in 2022 in the St. Louis metropolitan area, and 37 churches in Kansas City, MO.

Thanks to PHI’s Communities Rise and Urban League of Metropolitan Saint Louis Inc., Grill to Glory is able to provide resources to support individuals struggling with addiction.

Using the innovative Opioid Triage model, neighborhood churches located in or close to “open-air” drug markets were invited to erect resource hubs for several hours to assist individuals struggling with addiction. Deacon Watson, of Leonard Baptist Church, set up the triages on Saturday mornings from 11am–1pm, and at the core of these weekly efforts are a grill and delicious hot dogs.

After the first month, Deacon Watson reported that the neighborhood residents were elated with the meetings, and shared that each week those coming for fellowship grew. In the one-month timespan, participants grew from 30 to 50, to 75 and beyond. Pastors were impressed with the testimony and were excited to implement the effort. These meetings came to be known as Grill to Glory.

In the first year, 22 churches participated, and in year two, 65 churches fired up their grills and hosted brief cook-outs for neighborhood residents. In 2022, the number of participating churches has grown to 208 churches in the St. Louis metropolitan area, and 37 churches in Kansas City, MO., with a strong interest in Chicago, Memphis, Nashville, Indianapolis, Seattle, and Atlanta.

The vision of Grill to Glory is to restore the neighborhood church to a firm leadership and resource position in urban neighborhoods, with a goal to deliver valuable resources to families in need. Grill to Glory’s presence in neighborhoods has led to a reduction in crime and violence.

Watch local news clips covering Grill to Glory’s work:


Communities RISE Together supports COVID vaccination efforts in African-American, Asian-American/Pacific-Islander, Latinx, Native-American, rural, immigrant/migrant and low-income, older adult populations. Communities RISE Together works on the ground in more than 220 counties in 27 states in communities with low vaccination rates by calling on the capacity of 2,400 community-based organizations who have reached over 100 million people across the nation. The initiative is a collaboration between WE in the World, the Well Being in the Nation (WIN) Network and Public Health Institute.

A version of this impact story first appeared in a Communities RISE newsletter.

Work With Us

You change the world. We do the rest. Explore fiscal sponsorship at PHI.

Bring Your Work to PHI

Support Us

Together, we can accelerate our response to public health’s most critical issues.


Find Employment

Begin your career at the Public Health Institute.

See Jobs

Kids in a school playground


Donate to PHI Today to Build a Healthier World for Tomorrow

The last few years have been immensely challenging for communities around the globe—in some cases, setting back public health gains by years or decades. But these last few years have also demonstrated what works: Sustained investments in communities, health and equity, and policy change to support them. Now is the time to strengthen these successes, to ensure that no community falls behind.

Donate to PHI

Continue to