Given today’s economic climate, it’s hard to believe there are food bargains such as Angel Food Ministries where $30 buys enough food to feed a family of four for a week or more. Sounds too good to be true, but it is true. Angel Food Ministries, a food ministry with a servant’s heart, originates out of Monroe, Ga. It was founded in 1994 by pastors Joseph and Linda Wingo.
The program allows anyone to buy a box filled with various food items, having a total retail value of at least $60, for only $30. Angel Food also offers specials such as steak and meat combos, with fresh fruit and vegetable boxes for only $18 each. Once you buy a regular box of food, you can buy as many special boxes as you wish.
As a single mother of two older teenagers with furious appetites and ever expanding lists of likes and dislikes, preparing a meal the entire family will eat and enjoy is a challenge. Angel Food has helped me stretch our food dollars and add variety to our menus. One of my life’s joys is planning and preparing a meal for my family. My inherited Louisiana-cuisine culinary skills help makes this an adventure in good eating; however, the discovery of Angel Food Ministries has made meal planning easier.
There is no limit and no income qualification-anyone who eats, qualifies. The food can be purchased with cash or LINK cards. Comparison shopping done at retail stores around the country in various communities, including Chicago, resulted in the same food items costing between $42 and $78.
The Wingos started the Angel Food Ministries on their back porch to help the Monroe, Ga. families affected by a 1994 industrial plant closing. Originally, the food was offered free of charge, but the locals wouldn’t accept charity, so Pastor Wingo attached a modest cost to the food, and thus Angel Food Ministries began. Thirty-four families were fed that year. The ministry has grown and now provides, at a fraction of the cost, food to more than 500,000 families throughout the United States.
I first learned of Angel Food last spring. A good friend of mine had heard about it from a friend, and we decided to investigate such a preposterous tale of buying enough food for a family of four for the price then of $25. I went online at www.angelfoodministries.com and, sure enough, it was real. Excellent, top quality food at a fraction of the cost. Being a little skeptical, I placed my first order with a host site in Summit. I drove out there and gave them my $25 and came back three weeks later to pick up my food.
I was pleasantly pleased with the size of the portions and the quality. After ordering for two months, I decided it was time to let this best-kept secret out and bring it to the people of the Austin area and near west suburbs. I approached the board of trustees of the Austin Blvd. Christian Church, 635 N. Austin in Oak Park, and asked them to open their doors as a host site to partner with the TRY Center, a not-for-profit youth and family resource center. ABCC graciously agreed and I, as executive director of the TRY Center, contacted Angel Food Ministries to begin the process of becoming a host site.
In January, my two children, a family friend and I went down to Effingham for training on how to operate the site. It was a heart-warming and inspirational experience. More than 50 people gathered at 5 a.m. to unload the refrigerator truck which had brought the food from Monroe, Ga. Working as a team, we distributed the food to the host sites to take it back to their sites for distribution.
As trainees, we were walked through the process of taking and submitting orders and in working on the distribution line. Not only did we distribute food, but we were able to touch the lives of others and give them words of encouragement and hope. The TRY Center’s Angel Food Ministries site has been operating in Oak Park since February. To date, we fill orders from the Austin area and western suburbs of more than 90 families. Our distribution is growing each month.
Angel Food Ministries is an all-volunteer program. The money collected for the food is sent to Georgia to pay for the shipping and other administrative costs associated with getting the food to the people.
Once you buy from Angel Food, you will see there are still some great bargains available. My family not only enjoys the food, but we also enjoy the fellowship of working with the Angel Food Ministries program. There is always room for more volunteers. You’ll be glad you did.