ST. LOUIS (AP) _ A preacher said he put barbecued rabbit on the menu of his Easter meal for the homeless to dramatize the plight of the poor and stress that the true meaning of the holiday has nothing to do with bunnies.

''Jesus Christ did not tell us to give each other some cuddly little Easter Bunny,'' said the Rev. Larry Rice as the hungry and homeless lined up Sunday at the New Life Evangelical Center. ''He told us to feed the hungry.''

Christians celebrate Easter to mark the day they believe that Jesus rose from the dead.

On the menu Sunday were more than 300 grilled rabbits, served with sauce or without - plus corn and green beans, carrots, pasta, hard-boiled eggs and chocolate cake.

Diners also were given soap, razor blades, shampoo and deodorant - ''stuff you can't get with food stamps,'' Rice explained.

Rice said the Easter supper of rabbit was a deliberate publicity stunt to carry his message that ''there are too many people hungry in America to waste food.''

Yvonne Dozier, seated at dinner with her 8-month-old baby, said those at Rice's tables found the meal ''a blessing.''

''There ain't no such thing as the Easter Bunny, and I ain't no kid,'' she said. ''This is just food - good food.''