What started as a church outreach program has grown into a nationwide charity that locally, has 50 to 60 volunteers working on a rotating basis, serving as many as 70 families per month. Angel Food Ministries, a “hand-up, not a hand-out,” is a non-profit, non-denominational organization dedicated to providing food relief and financial support to communities throughout the United States. They have been around since 1994 and have grown to serve 35 states, of which Delaware is one. One of the local host sites, The River in Roxana, got on board in September 2008.
Customers can order online or call in their order once a month for a box of food that contains a selection of items that make up nutritious, balanced meals, at a discounted price of $30 per box. Depending on the region, the boxes could retail for about $45 to $70, with the average being $60, so there is an average savings of 50 percent for Angel Food’s customers. The boxes can feed a family of four for about a week or a single senior citizen for about a month.
Ken Evans of The River said they have been so fortunate to have partners in community involved in the project, and he wanted to express his gratitude for that assistance.
“It’s more of a community project than specifically The River, and I just wanted to give credit where credit is due and thank the AARP and the Bethany Fenwick Chamber. We started it, yes, but it is more outreach to the community.”
He noted that they began their outreach in September of 2008, with the generous support and partnership of Rich Evans, the pastor of Bayside Chapel near Fenwick Island.
“Rich offered their facility as our pick-up location and, before long, it became apparent to all of us that a larger facility would be needed.” They have since moved operations to the Indian River High School cafeteria for more space.
There is no limit to how many boxes customers can purchase, and there are no income requirements to be able to purchase the boxes at the discounted price, although if families are in need of food and cannot pay, they can work with the church. They also take Food Stamps, so families paying that way can stretch their dollars even more.
For each box that gets purchased, the church gets a $1 kick-back from Angel Food Ministries, and Evans said that, once they accumulate enough, that money goes straight back into purchasing boxes for families than cannot pay. For some families that don’t necessarily want to participate by buying food, they can donate money and that will allow the host site to offer more free food to the needy.
“It doesn’t have to do with income,” he said. “It is a service for anyone who wants to save money. And anyone that comes through the line, no one knows who got their food for free and who paid for it, so they don’t have to be ashamed or stay away for that reason. Everyone’s treated the same.”
He added that the church takes no administrative costs or any of their expenses out of the money paid, so any money donated to the program can go straight to buying a box for a family that cannot afford it. And the food received is only top-notch.
“Because of Angel Food’s involvement with only the best producers and vendors, our products are high-quality, name-brand foods – never seconds or day-old-type products. Each month’s food menu consists of both fresh and frozen items.”
October order times are Tuesday, Oct. 6, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Thursday, Oct. 8, 6-8 p.m.; and Saturday, Oct. 10, 10 a.m. to noon; and purchases must be paid for no later than Saturday, Oct. 10 at noon. They will accept cash, money orders and Food Stamps. Or, people can order online by Oct. 15. Distribution Day is Saturday, Oct. 24, from 9 to 10 a.m. at Indian River High School. Buyers need to have a box and their reciept to pick up food.
Angle Food is also taking orders for Thanksgiving, through Oct. 28. Evans said that, if a person or organization wanted to stretch their Thanksgiving outreach, a complete Thanksgiving dinner box is available for $36. Those orders are will be available for pick-up on Nov. 21 at the high school, between 9 and 10 a.m.
People can help with this community outreach by buying food for their families (for each box purchased Angel Food gives $1 to the host site, which can then purchase food for someone that cannot afford to buy their own), donate money for individuals to receive free food, volunteer or simply spread the word. For more information, to view October’s menu, or to order, call (302) 436-8841 or go online at www.riveronline.org or www.angelfoodministries.com.