In tough economic times, food costs, along with gasoline and other expenses, continue to rise.
But for those involved in Angel Food Ministries, food comes at a discounted rate.
“I really saw it as being needed and being a great help to the folks in the community,” said Ruby Casanova, director of Angel Food for Brunswick Baptist Association.
Casanova said Brunswick became involved in Angel Food Ministries in February 2007.
Angel Food Ministries is a non-profit organization based in Georgia that provides relief through distributing boxes of food at a discount to buyers in 35 states. Each month people can preorder a box of food (menus available online or at a distribution site) for $30. At the grocery store, the food would generally cost around $60-$70. There is also a senior box available with 10 nutritionally balanced meals (protein, starch, two vegetables or fruit). Ten desserts are also included.
“With the economy in the condition it’s in it has become a greater need,” Casanova said.
She shares stories from people about how they’ve been helped through Angel Food: “if it hadn’t been for angel food this month, I wouldn’t have been able to pay the power bill, the pharmacy bill, etc.”
When the food arrives it’s all about organization, Casanova said.
More than a dozen churches pick up at the association office each month. Casanova said an assembly line of volunteers boxes the food and distributes it to the churches. The churches take the food back to their site and distribute the orders.
Toni Clear, who is a nail technician, heard about Angel Food from a client.
“When I came to Catawba Heights (Baptist Church in Belmont), I was touched by women who were single parents,” Clear said.
She mentioned it at church and “it just kind of snowballed.”
The start of the ministry at Catawba Heights was providential for Clear and her family.
“The day that I picked up our food was just a couple of days after my husband lost his job,” she shared. “It was a real godsend. We ate almost everything in the box.”
Some of the church members take menus to work, and they share it with their neighbors.
Catawba Heights picks up their food from Flint Grove Baptist Church in Gastonia.
Clear said interest in Angel Food spiked as the economy worsened in the fall.
“We just think it’s really wonderful,” said Clear, who admits it’s a lot of work to unload and organize the food.
“It’s a joint effort,” she said. “All the churches pitch in, and it takes about two to three hours.”
The first month Flint Grove offered Angel Food (August 2006) about 130 boxes were ordered. The site peaked at around 250. Since more churches in the area have started distributing Angel Food, the numbers for Flint Grove’s orders have declined but still hover at around 110.
For Flint Grove, “it’s more of an outreach than anything,” said Chris Howell, youth pastor. “A majority of people who buy from us are from outside the church.”
Grace Baptist Church in Wilson was receiving so many calls, the voice mail now has Angel Food as the first option for callers.
Cindy Pierce, a volunteer at Grace, credits her membership at the church to ordering food from this ministry. She saw the pastor volunteering the day she picked up her food and that inspired her to visit almost three years ago.
“I felt that God was calling me to open the ministry,” said Jewel Rivers, wife of Grace’s pastor.
The first month Grace offered Angel Food, 60 boxes were ordered. Now they fill two tractor trailers and will have to add a third if orders continue to increase, Rivers said.
“When we were in seminary, there were times when we wondered if we would run out of food,” she said.
Angel Food has allowed the church to meet a similar need in Wilson.
“It has been a gradual increase very steadily,” she said.
Eleven churches, from various denominations, come to Grace each month to pick up boxes. Rivers said the church averages 20-25 volunteers each month on distribution day.
“It’s a wonderful, wonderful way to do ministry,” said Rivers, who said their youngest volunteer was four years old.
Rivers said the church has also been helping the local homeless shelter. They raised money for meats and other foods and filled the shelter’s freezer. The church has also made the local social services office aware of the cost and that the ministry accepts food stamps.
The addition of the senior citizen box has been a big success at Grace.
“It’s hard to find frozen foods that don’t have sodium,” said Rivers, adding that the senior box also has the exact amount of protein a senior is supposed to eat.
Casanova said the senior meals keep restrictions from the American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association in mind.
About Angel Food Ministries
Main office: Monroe, Ga.
Who: Angel Food Ministries is a non-profit, non-denominational organization dedicated to providing grocery relief and financial support to communities throughout the United States.
Cost: $30 for main food box (other boxes are available for various amounts)
What: Each food box contains fresh and frozen food items that would cost about $60 (or more) at a regular grocery store. One unit of food assists in feeding a family of four for about one week or a single senior citizen for almost a month. It is open to anyone who can pay for a box. In most locations food stamps can be used to purchase boxes as well. Most sites accept cash or money orders.
When: Orders have to be made in advance at a local host site and must be in early each month and are delivered one to two weeks later. Check local site for specific delivery instructions.
Where: North Carolina, along with 34 other states, have nearly 4,500 sites to distribute food. Check the web site to find a location near you.
Phone: (888) 819-3745
E-mail: [email protected]
Web site: www.angelfoodminstries.com
Financial health package
Across three issues of the Biblical Recorder and numerous postings online, the BR staff compiled stories dealing with financial health, budgeting, teaching children about money, stewardship issues, etc. For a complete list, click here.