What would you do if you could get $60-worth of quality food for only $30?
Angel Food Ministries, a non-profit, non-denominational organization, has teamed up with several area churches, including Calvary Baptist Church in McAllen, to help provide groceries to everyone, regardless of how much money one earns.
“Anybody can qualify,” Betty Flores, Angel Food coordinator, said. “We don’t ask for an application or proof of address — nothing. All you have to do is come in and order. The orders are sent in by the middle of the month, and by the end of the month, orders can be picked up at the church from 9 to 11 a.m.”
The program’s administrators claim one box of Angel Food generally assists in feeding a family of four for about one week or a single senior citizen for almost a month. The food is the same high quality one can purchase at a grocery store. There are no second-hand items, no damaged or out-dated goods, no dented cans without labels, no day-old breads and no produce that is almost too ripe.
“I don’t think enough people know about this,” Flores, said. “We have been doing this now for around four years, and the church in Edinburg has been doing it for five years, and still people say they’ve never heard about it.”
The morning of delivery, volunteers are up before daylight getting ready to distribute food. “We pick up our food every month in Harlingen,” Flores continued. “The meats are frozen, and each month’s menu is different than the previous month and consists of both fresh and frozen items.”
Angel Food Ministries was founded in 1994 by Pastors Joe and Linda Wingo, from Monroe, Ga. The couple felt the need to help provide food for friends and neighbors when they saw them struggling financially after the closing of factories and industrial plants there. It was from the Wingo’s back porch that Angel Food’s first boxes were distributed and the first 34 families fed.
Over the next years, additional churches got involved, and Angel Food Ministries expanded to feed hundreds of families across the Southeast. The program buys food from first-rate suppliers in substantial volumes for deep volume discounts, hence, passing the savings directly to the consumer and providing food relief to more than 500,000 families each month across 35 states.
“We want to raise awareness that if people do not qualify for food stamps, there is assistance here with Angel Food,” Flores said. “It is a lot less to pay than if they just buy their food from the grocery store. We want them to see that the quality of the food is good. People may have the idea that the food is of lesser quality than what they can buy at the grocery store, but it’s all quality food.
“In the three years I have been working with the Angel Food program, I’ve never had a complaint about the quality of the food,” Flores said.
Flores asserts that people who come in to pick up food are not ambushed by parishioners. “Yes, we have a prayer team on site,” Flores said, “but people who come to pick up food are not approached by church members. The team is there and available to pray with people who want them to. Many do ask for prayer during these difficult times.
“The entire process works really well,” Flores said. “We set up our distribution line, and people go down the line and pick up each item. We have volunteers who are willing to come in and help one Saturday a month.
There is no limit to the number of units or bonus foods an individual can receive, and for an additional charge, specialty boxes such as allergen-free food and “Senior and Convenience meal” boxes can be ordered.
“I have a man who comes in during the holidays and orders between 18 to 25 boxes to donate to needy people. There are many people I think benefit from the Angel Food program,” Flores continued. “We have families who are out of work or have medical needs who really need the help. Some may not qualify for food stamps, but they can get the food here at a discounted price, and people on a fixed income are so grateful to get the help. We have providers and family members who come and pick up the food for the elderly or disabled. And students in college who are struggling to make ends meet can receive help here as well.
“It doesn’t matter what faith or denomination you are. We don’t ask any questions, and we will welcome anyone,” Flores concluded. “We just want to help. Most people who come once will come back again. It’s a wonderful program, a true blessing.”
To participate in the Angel Food program, stop by Calvary Baptist Church, located at 1600 Harvey Street, Tuesdays or Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Pay $30 in cash or food stamps to buy Angel Food’s “Signature Box,” which includes 17 “restaurant grade” items: six kinds of frozen meats, pantry staples, fresh eggs, frozen vegetables and pizza, plus a dessert.
To find out more or place an order with the Angel Food Ministries program, call Calvary Baptist Church at 956-686-4364. Menu items and more information can be found at Angel Food Ministries’ Web site — www.angelfoodministries.com.