Who couldn’t use a little help stretching their grocery budget, especially these days?
For many struggling to make ends meet, help putting food on the table might be nothing short of heaven-sent.
Angel Food Ministries, a non-profit, non-denominational organization, is offering relief from soaring grocery prices and the best part is, there are no restrictions or guidelines - if you eat, you qualify.
Each month, the organization offers what they estimate as $50 to $60 worth of high-quality groceries for $30.
The ministry was started in 1994 by Pastors Joe and Linda Wingo, who wanted to help families in their rural northeast Georgia town left struggling financially after local textile mills closed. Today, Angel Food operates in 35 states, helping close to 500,000 families monthly with their food needs.
The organization buys fresh and frozen foods in bulk and distributes the groceries in “units” through churches, community groups, etc. Orders are placed and pre-paid in advance, then distributed once a month at local sites.
A basic unit of food contains an assortment of items for $30. For example, a unit may contain four six-ounce strip steaks, a two-pound tray of chicken breasts, a pound of boneless pork shops, two pounds of breaded chicken nuggets, a Salisbury steak entrée, sliced bacon, all-meat hot dogs, stir-fry vegetable mixture, carrots, cereal, shelf-stable milk, crinkle-cut fries, macaroni and cheese, rice bean soup mix, a dozen eggs and a dessert.
There’s no limit on the number of boxes an individual or family can purchase. In addition, a number of “specials” are available at varying costs, including assorted meat boxes, a steak combo and a fresh fruit and veggie box.
For senior citizens, a box containing 10 individual fully cooked heat-and-serve meals is available for $28.
An allergen-free unit is also currently being offered, with foods processed to eliminate the eight top serious allergens - peanuts, soybeans, milk, eggs, fish, crustacea, tree nuts and gluten (wheat, rye and barley).
The organization’s founder says they’re able to offer the savings because of their buying power, low overhead and non-profit status.
As an added benefit, Angel Food donates $1 from each box sold to the host site, for use in their own communities.
A helping hand, not a hand out
Angels East, which operates on the East Side of Toledo, was recently started by Vicky Fowler and Alice LaCourse and their husbands.
Though the organization is supported by members of Good Shepherd, St. Thomas Aquinas and Martin Luther Lutheran churches, the food program is open to anyone - there are no qualifications, minimums, income restrictions, or applications, Fowler said.
“We had initially heard about Angel Food Ministries about a year and a half ago while volunteering with Feed Your Neighbor,” La Course said. “At the time, a deacon at Good Shepherd was participating and going out to Holland to pick up the groceries every month.”
After the women and their husbands visited the Holland AFM distribution site, they looked into starting an organization on the East Side, which they eventually dubbed Angels East.
They took orders and had their first distribution at Good Shepherd in December. With distribution of flyers at the churches and other sites and word of mouth, 187 units were ordered and distributed.
“The response has been good for just having gotten started,” Fowler said.
“We’ve had calls from people from other states who participate in Angel Food, looking to order for their family members here,” LaCourse said.
The organization credits their volunteers for helping distribution go smoothly. “We have a core of 20 to 22 volunteers who signed up to help us out,” Fowler said.
Funds raised will be directed back into community, through church and other projects, the women said.
Those interested in seeing this month’s menu or in placing an order may visit www.angelfoodministries.com or call 888-918-3745.
Vicky Fowler and Alice LaCourse have started “Angels East,” designed to help residents on the East Side save on their monthly grocery bills. (Press photo by Ken Grosjean)