Angel Food Ministeries is a national organization that is growing by leaps and bounds, coordinated by churches across the country to distribute high quality food in once-a-month deliveries, based upon orders received in the prior month.
From their site, "[w]ith a heart to help others and a generous spirit, Joe and Linda Wingo founded Angel Food Ministries in 1994 to provide food for friends and neighbors who were struggling financially. Today, they are still doing the same thing. The Angel Food program now is helping provide food relief to more than 500,000 families each month."
Here's how it works:
You order based upon a menu. First, there's the menu's basic package which varies from month to month, and provides a variety of special, additional offerings, too.
This basic package costs around $30.00 - and you can buy more than one if you choose to do so. The specials cost about $20, and you have to buy a basic to buy any of the specials. (Holidays are dealt with in the specials, you'll see turkeys and ham for the December menu, etc.)
You place your order online, or in person at your closest distribution site. Then, on the delivery date, you bring your own containers (boxes, bags, laundry baskets, coolers) to the distribution spot and take home your goodies. Angel Food's home office says that the basic package should fit into a medium-sized box.
You can buy as many basic packages, and as many specials, as you want.
Is this a Welfare Program?
Nope. It's for anyone who has enough savvy to take advantage of this offering. Pride doesn't stretch a dollar, and in this economy, AngelTree can make a big difference in a monthly budget.
You pay and you buy.
No one is going to ask for any personal information from you, and you can buy for yourself; for family members or friends; for a senior citizen or single mom you know could use the help; or you can just buy a package and leave it to the distribution center to give it to someone they know would be well-served by the gift.
Who is Buying AngelTree packages?
I know of several schoolteachers that buy AngelFood packages, as well as social workers, single moms, retired folk, and seniors. Last week, my cashier at Sam's Club was telling me all about the chicken nuggets she got in her Angel Food package - apparently, my nuggets purchase paled in comparison in both quality and price.
What Do You Get?
You get restaurant-quality food; no seconds, nothing skimpy. The packages vary by month. For example, in August 2008, the basic package contains:
1.5 lb. of Ribeye Steaks (4 x 6 oz.)
5 lb.of Chicken Leg Quarters
28 oz. of Chicken Breast Nuggets
28 oz. of Salisbury Steak Dinner Entrées
32 oz. of Breaded Chicken Breast Filets
16 oz. of Smoked Sausage
16 oz. of California Blend Frozen Vegetables
16 oz. of Frozen Carrots
16 oz. of Frozen Chopped Spinach
10 ct. of Frozen Waffles
16 oz. of Bean Soup Mix
1 lb. of Rice
9 oz. of Instant Potatoes (14 servings)
15 oz. of Sliced Peaches
32 oz. of Borden Shelf Stable Milk
One Dozen Eggs
One Dessert Item
Each month's menu also offers specials. The August menu offered:
AUGUST SPECIAL #1 is the "7 lb. Family Assorted Grill Box - $20.00"
(1.5 lb Baseball Cut Sirloin Filet (4 x 6 oz.) (Thick-Cut)2 lbs Juicy Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast2 lbs St. Louis-Style Ribs1.5 lb Hamburger Patties (4 x 6 oz.))
AUGUST SPECIAL #2 is the "4.5 lb. Steak and Meat Combo - $20.00"
(1.5 lb. New York Strips (2 x 12 oz.)1.5 lb. Bacon-Wrapped Beef Filet (4 x 6 oz.)1.5 lb. Bacon-Wrapped Pork Filet (4 x 6 oz.))
AUGUST SPECIAL #3 is the "4.5 lb. Stuffed Chicken Breast Combo - $18.00"
(1.5 lb. Cordon Bleu (4 x 6 oz.)1.5 lb. Broccoli Cheese (4 x 6 oz.)1.5 lb. Chicken Breast Kiev (4 x 6 oz.))
AUGUST SPECIAL #4 is the "Fresh Fruit and Veggie Box - $18.00" (4 Red Delicious Apples; 4 lb Bag of Oranges; 1 Cello-wrapped Lettuce; 1 Large Cabbage; 6 Russet Potatoes; 2 Cucumbers; 1 Cantaloupe; 1 Honeydew Melon)
What Do You Pay?
You choose your items from the menu, and pay when you turn in your selection to your distribution point (the website has a long list of places - usually churches - that serve as distribution points).
The website also accepts online credit card payments. The distribution sites accept cash, check, Credit/Debit Cards or food stamps. You bring your receipt (or your friend's) on the delivery date to show proof of purchase.
How Much Do You Save?
As for savings, the basic package is priced at $30 per unit, and while the menus change each month, Angel Food estimates that you receive restaurant-quality items that would otherwise cost you (retail value) around $60-$70. So, the food is about HALF the price of retail.
How Long Will It Last?
Angel Food estimates that one basic package will feed a family of four for about 1 week, and for a single senior, about 1 month. (You'll have to add some perishables to that food budget, of course - Angel Food doesn't offer much in the way of fresh dairy products and produce.)
What About Feeling Ashamed?
Living a simple life means letting go of the idea that the approval of others should control your happiness and peace. Approval isn't love, and it isn't acceptance.
If AngelFood can help your family's budget (think about cutting that food bill in half, if you plan your menus right), then why not? It's a tough economy, and being smart is never, ever shameful.