Angel Food Ministries helps families stretch their dollar

Messenger photo by Lori Smith
Desiree Dusenberry, 5, waits for customers in the Angel Food Ministries grocery relief program at Grace Apostolic The Refuge of Reynoldsburg. Desiree is a kindergartener at Olde Orchard Elementary School on the Eastside.

At a time when just about everybody is wondering how to stretch the dollar a little farther, Angel Food Ministries is expanding its grocery relief program in the central Ohio area.

More than half a million families are participating in this national program, which is run by area churches, and the numbers just keep on growing.

"In this economy, you can’t go wrong with this," said Anita Bell, host site director for the Angel Food Ministries program at Grove City Church of the Nazarene. "It’s just a wise investment."

Everybody is eligible for the program, which allows participants to purchase approximately $60 worth of groceries for $30. There are no qualifications, minimums, income restrictions or applications. Food stamps are accepted, as well as cash, money orders or cashier’s checks. The food must be paid for prior to its delivery, and those with debit cards can order via the Web site at

Each month’s menu is different and consists of fresh, frozen and packaged food. Generally, one box of Angel Food assists in feeding a family of four for about one week, or a single senior citizen for about a month.

Angel Food Ministries was founded in Georgia in 1994 by Pastors Joe and Linda Wingo, when they found their hearts going out to the families of many local families who were affected by industrial plant closings. On their back porch, the first Angel Food distribution fed 34 families.

Henry Walters, host site director at Grace Apostolic the Refuge of Reynoldsburg, pointed out the program offers top-quality products at a reduced price. By buying food from first-rate suppliers at substantial volume discounts, Angel Food Ministries is able to provide a larger amount of nutritious food then customers could purchase for the same price at a retail establishment.

"It’s just a great way to save money on groceries," he said. "Everything is a top-quality product. There are no ‘seconds’ or outdated items. It’s a chance to save whether you are working or unemployed."

January’s regular box includes four 6-ounce ribeye steaks; 4 pounds of chicken leg quarters; four 6-ounce beef patties; 18-ounces of cheese-filled manicotti; 2 pounds of pork rib strips; 1 pound of chicken breast fajita strips; 1 pound of ground turkey; 1 pound of broccoli; 1 pound of peas; a six-count variety box of oatmeal packets; 32 ounces of 2 percent shelf-stable milk; an 8-ounce blueberry muffin mix; a package of 12 white corn tortillas; 1 pound of pinto beans; a 7-ounce package of chicken-flavored rice and vermicelli; a dozen eggs; and a dessert.

There is no limit on the amount of boxes that can be purchased each month.

"Some people come in and they purchase four boxes so they will have one for each week," Bell noted.

In addition, each month Angel Food Ministries offers various "specialty boxes." In January, they are offering a senior/convenience box with heat-and-serve food for $28; a 6-pound assorted meat combo for $22; a 4.5-pound bacon-wrapped meat combo for $21; a 3.75-pound T-bone special for $21; a 10-pound chicken combo for $20; and a fresh fruit and veggie box (including potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, oranges, pecan halves, grapefruit, green cabbage, carrots, tangerines and pears) for $21.

Grove City Church of the Nazarene started offering the program last fall, and now they have a list of 400 customers.

"It’s doing really great," Bell said. "The community is really loving it."
Word-of-mouth recommendations, as well as referrals from social service agencies, are helping the program grow every month.

"I’ve had people who are coming from credit card agencies who are being told about this ministry," Bell said. "Every month there’s an increase. We’ve been consistently growing. Our first month I think we had nine people."

Customers are asked to bring a medium-sized box to load with the food items.

"Some people bring a cooler or a laundry basket," Bell said.

The food is set up in an assembly line fashion, with customers scooting their box down the tables to fill it up. Music is playing while they load up, and all are met with smiles, laughter and blessings from the volunteers.

"It’s just a fun place," Bell said of the distribution at Grove City Church of the Nazarene. "Some of our customers come early just so they can sit outside and talk."

At Grace Apostolic Refuge of Reynoldsburg, volunteers were quick with greetings and assistance.

"You get to help people and talk to them and visit with them," Walters said. "Everybody loves doing it."

Walters noted some churches are encouraging members of their congregations to participate even if they don’t need the grocery relief. They are asking them to use the money they save to help someone else in need.

"The last couple of months we’ve had people buy an extra box to give to somebody else," Walters noted.

Some are reluctant to participate because they don’t believe they are "needy" enough, Bell said.

"They say, ‘If I order, I’ll probably be taking the food out of the mouth of somebody who really needs it,’ " Bell said. "That is not the case. There’s never a shortage in the food. We just tell them, ‘If you have that great a concern, use your savings and buy someone else a box of food.’ "

Local sites offering grocery relief service

Local sites offering the Angel Food Ministries grocery relief service:
• Grace Apostolic the Refuge of Reynoldsburg, 1170 Lancaster Ave. in Reynoldsburg. Host site director: Henry Walters, (614) 866-0462

• Holy Spirit Church of Columbus, 3420 Bexvie Ave. in East Columbus, Host site director: Belinda Walls, (614) 238-6707

• New Journey Christian Ministries, 2450 Performance Way in Southeast Columbus, Host site director: Vera Antwine, (614) 266-3022

• Whitehall Church of the Nazarene, 739 S. Yearling Road in Whitehall, Host site director: Rodney Kuhn, (614) 231-6547

• Grove City Church of the Nazarene, 4770 Hoover Road in Grove City, Host site director: Anita Bell, (614) 875-2551 Ext. 294

• London Church of the Nazarene, 224 Elm St. in London, Host site director: Stephanie Leach, (740) 852-3498

• Cathedral of Praise, 7095 Summit Road in Pataskala, Host site director: Elizabeth Philabaum, (740) 927-2405

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