Churches offer grocery relief to all in form of Angel Food

Representatives of London Church of the Nazarene unload a grocery shipment from Angel Food Ministries.
Cynthia Rafferty takes inventory.
Gilda Jackson arranges boxes of food on tables for the families that come to the Angel Food program at London Church of the Nazarene.
(From left) Beverly Fugate, Derek Jones, Diana Elam, Stephanie Leach, James Doyle, Gilda Jackson and Jimmy Hollar stand in front of completed boxes of food for families in need.

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 central Ohio.

More than half a million families are participating in this national program, which is run by area churches, and the numbers 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 www.angelfoodministries.com.

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 local families affected by industrial plant closings. From their back porch, the first Angel Food distribution fed 34 families.

Russ Fairbanks, pastor of London Church of the Nazarene, an Angel Food host site, said the program offers great products at reduced prices. By buying food from first-rate suppliers at substantial volume discounts, Angel Food Ministries is able to provide a larger amount of nutritious food than customers could purchase for the same price at a retail establishment.

“There are lots of well-known brands. It is high quality food,” he said.

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.

Customers are asked to bring a medium-sized box to load with the food items. Some people bring a cooler or a laundry basket.
The food is set up in assembly-line fashion, with customers scooting their boxes down the tables to fill them up. All are met with smiles, laughter and blessings from the volunteers.

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.”

London Church of the Nazarene has been an Angel Food site for a year-and-a-half. Fairbanks said the program is popular with people in a variety of circumstances.

“The majority who come in are seniors or on welfare, but we also have people come in just because it’s such a good deal,” he said.

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,’ ” she 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.’ ”

Central Ohio sites offering the Angel Food Ministries grocery relief service are:

• London Church of the Nazarene, 224 Elm St. Host site director: Stephanie Leach, 740-852-3498.
• Grove City Church of the Nazarene, 4770 Hoover Road in Grove City. Host site director: Anita Bell, 614-875-2551, ext. 294.
• 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.
• Cathedral of Praise, 7095 Summit Road in Pataskala. Host site director: Elizabeth Philabaum, 740-927-2405.

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