Video by Sandi Moynihan

CHICAGO—Dough can run a little low for military families right before payday, limiting their eating options to cheap and often-greasy food. But for service members stationed at Naval Station Great Lakes, there’s a way to grab a tasty, heathy meal when cash is tight.

Since 1999, USO Great Lakes has been serving No Dough Dinners to provide troops and their families with free, hearty meals right before their next paycheck shows up.

What began as monthly free dinner has grown into a bi-weekly - and sometimes weekly - program. USO Great Lakes Center Director Chris Miller says it’s one of the center’s most attended events. In 2014 alone, USO Great Lakes has served over 11,000 meals at 31 No Dough Dinners. That’s an average of more than 350 people per event.

“It not only teaches the sailors about the USO and the surrounding community, but it also teaches the volunteers that come and serve these meals about our sailors, Marines, soldiers and everybody else stationed here,” said Capt. William Bulis, commanding officer at Naval Station Great Lakes.