Sunday, January 11, 2009

Beautiful Opportunities: Angel Food Ministries

With unemployment at 7.5%, a lot people who were givers last year are struggling with the realization they need a bit of assistance themselves. It is pretty evident that participation in the down economy is not an opt-in. We know about food banks and stamps, but there is another resource available to assist with the grocery bill.

Enter Angel Food Ministries. Founded in 1994 by Pastors Wingo, this nationwide network based in Georgia "provides food to more than 500,000 families each month" for a reasonable sum of $30.

The ways you can participate:

Establish a new host site
Donate online
Contact local host site to purchase food

Sounds too good to be true, right? Is this food going bad? Goods you wouldn't give to your grandmother? No, merely food purchased in such big lots they are able to sell near wholesale prices. You can read all about it on the website, but even more convincing was word-of-mouth from a close friend who, after finding out the nearest delivery site was 30 minutes away, eventually set up a host site in her hometown. Laurie's experience went like this:

- We first ordered a box to test things out, and inquired about becoming a Host site. Pleased to find a lot of meat, and good variety of vegetables and fruit.

- We ordered two more months to be sure that we could see a consistency in variety offered, and the types of products available. We were very impressed.

- We applied for our church to become a Host site in July, and were approved to begin taking orders. November was our first month to distribute. We had 49 regular boxes, 13 senior boxes and several special grill boxes for a total of 94 orders! December was 90 regular boxes, 16 senior, and with specials, came to a total of 96.

We find that it is a great way to help us with our groceries, with my husband being in nursing school FT! A regular box is $30 (which purchased at the grocery store would normally retail between $60 to $80 dollars) and feeds us for about two weeks. We have also seen it as a great opportunity to be able to be of help to a neighbor or a friend that may be struggling at this time or to a single parent trying to provide for their family. The AFM motto: "It isn't a hand out, it is a hand up," was what made the difference for us and we have now seen it firsthand.

Purchases are made through local host sites which you can search on the site. You must pick up - there is no delivery. You can buy as many bags as you like. The only option lacking at this time is vegetarian. Anyone can buy - and food stamps are also accepted.

In Milwaukee I was surprised to find only one location, and a second in Kenosha. This is a service that would benefit many in greater Milwaukee. I've requested information on requirements to host and encourage anyone who is interested to fill out the online form. Spread the news and donate, host or order as you see fit!

If you've had experience with Angel Food Ministries, please share with us in the comments.

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